The Exercise Metabolism Connection

Have you, in the past, started a rigorous exercise program, started eating several small meals a day, or started taking a supplement that promised to boost your metabolism? If so you have been thinking about, learning about, or attempting to alter your metabolism.

So which one works? The truth is, they all work in conjunction with a weight loss program of eating correctly and exercising regularly.

Exercise, eating strategically, and ensuring that your body has catabolism-friendly supplements are three of many generally good weight loss ideas.

If your methods of increasing your metabolic rate didn’t prove the results you’d hoped for it is likely that you are just missing one or two parts of the metabolism puzzle. You don’t need to be a scientist or struggle through medical journals to learn the ins and outs of your metabolism though. This article and others like it on Pedometers.org will help to get you on track.

On your walk to better health it is important to not risk your future health. To ensure it you’ll want to understand strategies, and techniques of increasing your metabolism while walking to lose weight – or any other exercise program. Although there are many ways to do so, the ten easiest ways will be discussed over the next few articles. You will find them all within the ‘Metabolism’ category here.

Each of the ten tips are classified in one of three categories: exercise, lifestyle and diet. However you will also notice while you read that some of the tips are equally valid in one of the other categories. As an example of this, incorporating exercise into your daily routine is also a lifestyle choice. Therefore I suggest you read every section or article to get the most value and the best weight loss results.

Since exercise is one of my favorite topics, we’ll start there…

You can’t skip exercising if you want to increase your metabolism to lose weight unless you’re born with an unusually overactive metabolism. Any cardiovascular (aka aerobic) exercise will work as long as you notice an increase in heart rate and body temperature. With the added benefits of blood circulation and oxygen intake/carbon dioxide exchange, your metabolic rate increases.

The other side of exercise, strength training, increases metabolism by building muscle. Why does this work? Well a pound of muscle will burn more calories than a pound of fat. Therefore the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn in any activity – sedentary or aerobic.

Just remember that if you workout to build muscle and then quit exercising those muscles over time, your muscle fibers deteriorate you lose the high metabolic rate that burns calories so efficiently. Adjust your intake to ensure you don’t pack on the pounds again if you stop working out.

Some Specifics About The Metabolism and Exercise Connection

The basic weight loss principle behind exercise is catabolism. By changing your body’s composition (i.e. more muscle than fat) it requires more energy and catabolism will break down cells to deliver that energy to you. Based on that logic, once you have gained a moderate comfort level with walking or other aerobic exercise you might want to look into some interval training. Interval training is a high-energy, calorie burning, exercise plan implemented on an infrequent basis.

As an example, if you walk every day try adding a twenty minute jog to your program every second day. It will increase your metabolism by building muscle and oxygen intake. Another example, if you have achieved a stronger fitness level and you jog, try adding a one minute sprint every twenty minutes that you jog. Do you see the trend here? Anything that will give your body a bit of a jolt or rush will work.

Interval training can last longer than a minute but for most people this is based o your current level of fitness. Those who are extremely fit may benefit from interval training of 30-40 minutes at a time.

As with all exercise changes, check with your doctor for specific advice and don’t overdo it with interval training. Your goal here is to become healthier and stronger, and lose weight in that process.

Of course there is much more to learn about interval training but that introduction will get you started. A hint to keep you interested in interval training is that by adding some variety to your exercise program you can give your metabolism another jolt. The variety ensures that your body doesn’t get into a comfortable groove and continues to burn calories at a faster rate.

Remember that any activity that causes your temperature to increase, your heart working harder and deeper breathing will increase your metabolism and aim for those increases regularly.

A Walking Program With Man’s (and Women’s too) Best Friend

Walking With Dogs
Start with a simple walk and work up to excellent health.

Don’t wait for your pedometer to arrive in the mail, start a walking program today. It will warm you up to more brisk walks once your pedometer has arrived and it is one of the safest exercises you can do for your heart – not to mention lessen the risks of breast cancer and diabetes.

If you have a dog a daily walk or two is a great way to warm both of you up to more brisk and beneficial walking next week. Plus, you’re doing something wonderful with your pet as they need exercise too.

Even if your dog is a little lazy and overweight I’m willing to bet that by the time you strap on your pedometer and get set for a faster pace walk your dog will already be showing the signs of health. I’ve seen it first hand. A friend of mine had an aging and overweight dog that she loved dearly. She had no trouble going out the door with me the first few times but by the second week of daily walks she was dragging her paws. On the third week of walking she was excited again as the exercise had already made some positive changes to her weight, her endurance and her breathing. Funny how they can be so much like the humans who love them.

Whenever I take an overweight dog for the first week of daily walks we take it easy. At the start of week two I begin to step it up – probably why they decide they don’t want to go for walks at first! But by the third week as they realize they are feeling better, their metabolic rate has increased and the brisk walk isn’t such a huge challenge – I can often get them into a light jog.

Some important considerations to take for both you and your dog are to ensure the leash is long enough that you aren’t bent over while walking the dog, but not too long that your dog can get tied up in your feet. If your pet has not been trained to heel the first week of casual walking is a good match for training – after that you should have made a great walking companion. By the time you move into your third week you’ll be able to bend your arms at the elbow and pump yourself along for a cardiovascular boost.

Here are a few of my other walking ‘tricks’:

  1. Flex! Flex your stomach muscles while walking a few seconds at a time. You’re toning your abs while you walk.
  2. Flex! (again) Your buttock muscles as you walk. Every step you take should be a conscious movement from the ball of your foot to the top of your waist. With practice you’ll feel the flex and in no time at all you’ll have the shapely butt of an athlete.
  3. Work your thigh muscles! Plan at least one walk a week that includes a steep hill or a large flight of stairs. Going up and going down both will do your thighs good.
  4. Stay motivated! Don’t let yourself get bored of walking the same block, the same city street, the same route every night. Once you’ve been walking with a pedometer for exercise for a while it is so easy to get bored. Drive to the park, take your MP3 player with you, walk backwards for part of the route, walk home from work or park a mile away, and take walking vacations. More on those on a later post, but suffice it to say you will love some of the fabulous places I’ve visited as part of a walking tour and am ready to share with you now.
  5. Spoil yourself with good gear! Get the best pedometer you can afford and learn how to use all the functions. Fitness now becomes a part of your daily life and you’ll live longer for it. Subscribe to a walking or fitness magazine and buy well-fitting, athletic footwear.
  6. Drink! Stay hydrated. Bring along a water bottle.

More Walking Program Articles can be found here on Pedometers.org!

The Advantage of Walking for Fitness

Stretch Before Every Walk with Your Pedometer
Before walking for fitness with a pedometer, stretch your muscles to warm them up.

Walking for fitness, health and exercise is one of the best and easiest ways to get back into shape, strengthen your immune system (helping you to fight disease). Walking is also helpful to lower blood pressure, which keeps your blood pumping efficiently and increases metabolism. If you have slightly elevated LDL levels walking can help keep cholesterol in control too.

Not just for your inner body as well. Walk with a pedometer on a regular schedule and you’ll find your muscles strengthening while you lose weight.

Wondering how to get started? Although every person reading this will be at a different level of fitness nearly everyone should wear a pedometer for at least a week, counting their steps per day, and then setting goals for following weeks at an increase of 10-20%.

If you begin to take walks at a normal pace you can gradually step into a brisker pace each week, lengthen the time of your walks or add more aerobically challenging activities to your exercise time. No matter what level you are at, you should always warm up with a few stretches before you begin and cool down by walking slowly at the end of your workout.

All new exercise program should be worked into. For example if you are intending to eventually strength train a walking fitness program will bring you to the level required to build up enough muscle tone for your next program.

Walking for fitness programs often run on a seven day workout plan. In such a program you would use a diary, journal or log of activity to record progress and goals. Your primary goal would be to start walking each day. Do so for ten consecutive minutes at a minimum. Eventually you would work yourself up to 20 minutes per day.

A great way to stay motivated is to start or join a team of other pedometer walkers. Being part of a team will inspire you to stay focused, engaged and motivated. If you all being as new walking for fitness participants you can progress at the same rate (given similar ages and body types).

To push yourself or your team too early in your fitness program is to invite failure as a result of over-exertion. Overexertion is the most common reason people eventually give up on walking for fitness.

When your group is ready – or when you are ready as an individual – change your walking time to faster paced walks. These brisk walks shrink your risk of heart attack or a stroke, reduce the risks of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and more.

Starting Out With A Step Counter

Step Counter vs. Pedometer - Which Do You Need?
By the time you retire you could be taking treks along the side of moutain ranges. Start walking today and you never know where it will take you...

A step counter, or pedometer, can improve your health and overall wellness, help you to lose weight and potentially live longer too.

So, what’s a pedometer? It is a small electronic device (a gadget) that you wear on your waistband. As you walk, it counts your steps.

To be technically correct I’ll clarify. A pedometer actually calculates distance. A step counter only counts steps. Today’s pedometer still counts steps but it also uses a user-input stride length to calculate that distance.

More complex pedometers will also calculate calories burned, time spent in exercise each day, steps per minute and whether you reach aerobic levels, etc. If you are just starting to walk for fitness, you don’t need much more than a decent $20 or so step counter.

So why would you want to count steps anyway? Well the steps you take are a primary indicator of the activity you engage in each day. Research and studies over the last ten years have shown that you don’t need to allot a specific time for exercising as smaller bouts of exercise can have the same effect. Say, for instance a short walk in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Nice? I thought you’d like that! Some small daily changes in your routine and a simple little pedometer to chart your progress can have tremendous beneficial effects on your health.

By taking more steps per day you increase your daily activity and metabolism. You burn more calories. Your muscles get moving.

But that’s not all….

Exercising also increases stamina, stimulates weight loss, lowers blood cholesterol levels, lowers your blood pressure, improves your mood and your self image and enhances your quality of life. Really. Try it for a week – 3 small walks per day, every day and assess how you feel by the end of one week. Remember that it takes 7 weeks to make your new habit a part of your life so if you feel better (and I know you will) then keep at it for another 6 weeks to follow.

Here’s what else you’ll notice…

You’re going to sleep better, you’ll be strengthening your heart and lungs, your energy will increase and you’ll ability to deal with stress will strengthen. You’ll also lower your triglycerides and better control blood sugar levels/diabetes naturally.

There are more benefits to exercise as I’m sure you already know. The point is that a new routine, a step towards fitness, doesn’t need to cost a fortune or fill up your evenings and weekends. Start with just 10 minute walks a few times a day and your life will be improved. Assess at the end of the week and if you’re feeling great, add more time to each walk or increase the speed and intensity of your walks. Measure your progress and record your steps in your personal pedometer if you have one.

Here’s to your strength, your health, and your long life!