This is the third and final article of a three part series focusing on health and fitness. In the previous segments, we explored the evolution rationale and magnitude behind the current weight related epidemic and discussed the science behind caloric ingestion and energy storage. This section will cover the other half on the aforementioned energy discussion and focus on energy utilization.
As previously mentioned above, a combination of factors determine an individual’s energy expenditure, which is directly correlated to basal metabolic activity – the rate at which the body utilizes energy; these elements include gender, age, activity level, body-composition, hormonal changes… The aging process accompanies various irreversible processes that result in a gradual decline in metabolism, making fitness an uphill challenge. Fortunately, there are modifiable elements such as exercise which functions as a cornerstone in any sustainable fitness goal.
Unlike dietary stimulants, which have multiple negative health consequences, exercise not only directly increases metabolic rate and energy expenditure, but also promotes transformations at the molecular level involving musculoskeletal and hormonal restructuring that perpetuate boosts in metabolism well after the conclusion of physical activity. Furthermore, the type and pattern of exercise can also dramatically alter the metabolic profile. There are various different workout modalities, aerobic vs. anaerobic, isometric vs. dynamic, cardio vs. strength… each with a unique set of benefits. In addition to burning calories, the common denominator of physical training is musculoskeletal building and strengthening. High-density muscles weigh more than fat but also increase basal metabolic activity.
The body does not recognize workouts as motivations for fitness, and during physical activity, tries to conserve energy and minimize caloric expenditure. Just like all biological processes, the more regular and repetitive, the more efficient the body is at conserving energy. It is therefore most beneficial to engage in activities that promote muscle confusion to maximize calories burned. For example, during a steady paced jog, the body activates energy saving mechanisms. Conversely, a sprint punctuated with periods of slow walking confuses the body, preventing it from utilizing conservation measures with resultant increased caloric usage.
Health and fitness is crucial component of everyday life and should not be focused on weight loss or physique, but on overall cardiovascular health and vigor. In order to achieve optimal fitness, one must embrace both sides of the energy equation by consuming a well-balanced and nutritious diet and exercise. Living in a fast-paced and demanding society, it is not always easy to eat well and work out. As a result, we are experiencing a disproportionate epidemic of weight related illnesses, some of which can be preventable by simple lifestyle modifications. As more and more people are starting to seek out holistic and alternative means to wellness, IV drip bars are becoming more popular offering to provide a quick fix. While B12 shots and IV infusions with vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals are effective in health maintenance and boosting productivity, they are not meant to be a replacement for diet and exercise. The true vision of wellness preaches a lifestyle of balance with realistic goals and long-term sustainability.