What’s your exercise?
How to choose the right exercise routine –
Typically three body types are found in human beings:
Ectomorphs are thin and remain underweight due to an unusually high metabolism.
Endomorphs are usually obese and have a tendency to put on weight due to poor metabolism.
Mesomorphs are unicorns! They have the genetic gift of being able to naturally maintain more lean muscle mass and less body fat percentage. In short, they’re fit without much effort.
To reach an ideal body weight, Endomorphs need weight loss, whereas Ectomorphs need weight gain. In both cases, triglycerides or fats in the body are the real culprits. Underweight individuals tend to focus on weight gain by eating fattening food like sweets, carbohydrates and junk food in unmonitored quantities. While they may gain weight this way, it may not be the healthiest way to go about it as it puts you at risk of obesity and other complications. The focus needs to be on quality weight gain or what we call muscle gain.
The fitness industry functions around the concept of weight loss. Any fitness professional will tell you that losing weight is mostly easy, but maintaining a weight loss is the real challenge. Google and social media have become easy tools for enthusiasts to find fad diets and meal replacements. Unsupervised, these can cause protein loss, leading to hair and skin issues, muscle loss, etc.
A balanced diet and the right kind of exercise are crucial to maintaining and enhancing the health of your body and mind. Weight training is considered to be an ideal exercise option for individuals looking for weight loss or weight gain. It increases lean muscle and continues to burn fats after you’ve stopped workout. Weight training includes exercises using body weight or equipment like dumbbells, barbells and machines.
Endomorphs also need to invest time in cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and aerobics to counter conditions like hypertension and high cholesterol.
Can I just walk my weight off?
It is a myth that cardiovascular exercise is the best for weight loss. Your cardio routine will burn some fat, but not enough to help reach your goal. The calorie burn stops the moment you stop your workout and it does not help create the ideal calorie deficit for fat loss. To put it simply, focusing on cardio for fat loss is like trying to empty an ocean with a cup!
It has been scientifically proven that an hour of weight training continues to burn calories for 24-48 hours. So spare your knees and joints and replace long walks and runs with a weight-training session. Also, it is a myth that weight training is only for men. It works wonders for women by strengthening their bodies and reducing the risk of varicose veins, arthritis etc.
Endurance and overcoming challenges in physical activity are what we consider exercise. Broadly, there are only 3 types of exercise :
1. Strength training builds your body’s strength. Fat loss and reduced blood- sugar levels are its by-products.
2. Cardiovascular training develops the health of our hearts, lungs and blood vessels. It improves stamina and aids in maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.
3. Stretching improves the elasticity and flexibility of muscles. It helps keep the body and joints supple.
The best way to achieve fat loss is a combination of all three exercises. Though we have only three types of exercises, there are a lot of routines you can choose from.
Weight training exercises:
Squats, Lunges, Push-ups, Chin-ups, Tricep dips, Abdominal crunches, Plank, Back extension etc.
Walking, Jogging, Running, Jumping, Skipping, Cycling, Treadmill, Spot jogging, Swimming, Dancing etc.
Stretching: Most yogasanas come under this category.
Indoor vs Outdoor:
Research has proven that indoor exercises performed in fitness environments are better as compared to outdoor exercises. However, outdoor activities have their perks. In addition to fresh air and improved breathing, outdoor exercise exposes us to sunlight which is the best source of Vitamin D3.
If you want to seriously up your fitness game, access to equipment, the ability to measure intensity, access to professional trainers, and access to first aid make the gym a better environment for your workout. To get the best of both worlds, an individual can combine the two to perform cardio workouts outdoors and weight training indoors. Choose an environment that makes your workout more joyful and exciting.
Is my workout working for me?
Your workout’s effectiveness must be measured in terms of the long-term results generated. Sweating it out might be a fitness mantra but the amount of sweat has nothing to do with the intensity of your workout. Sweating does not aid weight loss either. Sweat is a bodily mechanism that gets rid of toxins and cools your body when its temperature rises.
The weighing scale is a poor judge of progress. The focus of good health is fat loss, not just weight loss. Weight loss might also be a result of muscle loss which is bad news. If you’ve just started exercising and the weighing scale doesn’t seem to move much, don’t sweat! This could just be your muscles getting stronger. Losing inches all over is a sign of true progress.
Your exercise is working if you can see your body tone up. This means you are gaining lean muscle. Muscles are active tissues that do all the hard work for us during any movement. Increased strength is a sign of improvement in this active tissue. Fad diets that offer quick results on the weighing scale tend to compromise your health by causing muscle loss. So, stop and re-evaluate if you are losing weight but not looking trimmer.
Do you feel like you can run faster without running out of breath? Do you feel like the 4 flights up the stairs are no longer as tiring as they used to be? Congratulations! Improved stamina is a sweet sign that your cardio workouts are hitting the spot.
Finally, the proof is in the pudding called medical tests. If you do blood investigations after regularly exercising over some time, you should be able to see the effects — reduced lipids, lower blood sugar levels, stabilised thyroid levels and normalised blood pressure. With consistent workouts and healthy eating, these levels should come into an optimal range provided you don’t have any other complications.
When it comes to choosing the right workout, remember to consult a doctor and a fitness professional to understand what your body needs. Remember the key to health is consistency, so choose a workout that you enjoy. Remember to change your routine now and then to ensure you and your body feel challenged. Finally, a good workout needs the support of good nutrition, so don’t forget to be mindful of what goes on your plate.
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The author is a fitness consultant and a sports nutritionist.