Like food, I consider exercise to be a powerful medicine because when properly applied it can provide amazing benefits to mind and body. There are different forms of exercise that offer different benefits. Ideally you want to perform a variety of exercises and avoid doing the same ones all the time. Lets look at the basic types of exercise.
Aerobic Exercise (Cardio):
Jogging, walking fast, using an elliptical machine, are all examples of aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise helps your heart and lungs work more efficiently, and increases your stamina while activating your immune system. Research has shown that aerobic exercise stimulated the production in the brain of powerful substances called endorphins. Endorphins elevates mood, combats depression, relieves pain and is thought to be responsible for the runners high – the euphoric feelings runners often experience while running.
On the other hand prolonged aerobic exercise can have negative effects on the body with excess physical and mental stress and the production of unhealthy levels of the stress hormone cortisol. I recommend combining 30 minutes of cardio with other types of exercise in a session that in total should ideally not exceed one hour.
Strength (Resistance) Training:
This type of exercise involves making various muscle work against resistance. The resistance can be provided in many ways: your own body weight as in when you perform a push up or from weights like a dumbbell or from gym equipment like a pully machine. Strength training exercises add further health benefits to your exercise program.
Resistance exercise increases muscle strength and mass helping to prevent the age related loss of muscle that occurs as a part of the aging process. This loss of muscle mass contributes to a host of health problems including diabetes, heart disease, falls and bone fractures.
Resistance exercise especially when the large muscle groups are exercised maximally increases the production of the important hormone testosterone, needed by both men and women. Excessive resistance training for prolonged periods will like too much cardio torn off your testosterone production and elevate levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
To be really effective you need enough repetitions to exhaust your muscles with weights heavy enough that you can do less than 12 repetitions. Do not exercise the same muscle groups every day as they need at least two days of rest to recover, repair and rebuild. So if you train on successive days work on other muscle groups each day.
Your body has 29 core muscles located mostly in your back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout your entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support your back, make your spine and body less prone to injury and help you gain greater balance and stability.
A comprehensive exercise program include exercise to strengthen and balance your core muscles.
Flexibility and toning, another very important aspect of total fitness is facilitated by stretching exercises. This is often neglected but should be included in every workout session. Yoga and Pilates provide great stretching while strengthening your core muscles. There are many specific stretching exercises you can learn and most are adapted from the 5 thousand year old science of yoga.
I specifically recommend that you add a yoga practice to your exercise program. In addition to ther benefits of flexibility, it teaches you to focus on your breathing and the art of mindfulness. This offers tremendous mental benefits in addition to the physical ones and is great for stress relief and management. In this regard a specific yoga technique called ‘Yoga Nidra’ is of exceptional value.
Peak 8 Fitness
While the types of exercises described above will influence the production of endorphins, testosterone and cortisol, we can use exercise to optimise our levels of another important anti-aging hormone called HGH.
Peak 8 fitness is a term used by health expert, Dr. Joe Mercola to describe an exercise program that can replace or complement typical aerobic training. These peak exercises are performed twice a week in addition to whatever you normally do.
It involves a series of 8 burst or cycles in which you raise your heart rate up to your threshold for 30 seconds, and then you recover for 90 seconds. You would repeat this cycle for a total of 8 repetitions.
These cycles are preceded by a 3 minute warm up and 2 minute cool down so the total time required is about 20 minutes. This approach is far more effective than traditional cardio and you can incorporate it into almost any type of exercise routine.
Scientists confirm that peak fitness naturally increase your levels of HGH, the hormone that some professional athletes inject illegally to improve their performance. Anti-aging doctors Peak fitness exercises do it naturally, without the expense or side effects.