August 9, 2019

Healthy Lifestyles: Exercise

In this post we talk about the importance of exercise and the benefits it provides.

Healthy Lifestyles: Exercise


Exercise is the compliment to diet when attempting to live a healthy lifestyle.  Diet without exercise, or vice versa, is like a shower without soap.  The results will be disappointing.  For that reason, in this post we dive into the importance of exercise!

The Importance of Exercise

There are a plethora of reasons to exercise.  Many people associate exercise with weight loss or body building.  Other reasons for exercise include improved sleep, increased quality of life, and numerous health benefits.  Tuning the goal of one's exercise schedule is important to achieving these goals and producing results.  A properly managed schedule can greatly improve quality of life.

Weight Management

Losing Weight

Exercise serves as the compliment to diet.  Following a strict diet can lead to weight loss, but these diets are not sustainable long term.  Burning calories through exercise allows for a greater caloric budget, meaning higher quantities of food can be eaten.  This can also mean faster weight loss due to achieving a higher calorie deficit.

To visualize how exercise can contribute to weight loss, consider a few examples.  Running burns approximately 100 carbs per mile.  This means if someone can run a pace of 12 minutes per mile, they would burn approximately 500 calories in an hour.  Brazillian Jiu Jitsu is said to burn anywhere from 3.25 to 4.87 calories per pound per hour, depending on intensity.  This means a BJJ workout for an hour burns a minimum of around 500 calories for a 155 lb person.  Yoga can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories per hour depending on type and body weight.  Finally, weight lifting will burn anwhere from 180 to 300 depending on weight.

Note that many other examples burn more calories than some of the examples above.  Weight lifting is one of the few exercises which burn very little calories.  The previous examples show that an hour of exercise can burn around one fourth of a daily caloric intake.  By burning these calories a person can lose weight faster or eat more food while losing a similar amount of weight.  Also, exercise is vital to maintaining an achieved weight.  Without exercise it will be very difficult to not gain weight by maintaining a calorie neutral diet.

Gaining Weight

Exercise is vital to ensuring gained weight is clean muscle instead of fat.  Eating more calories than the metabolism burns will cause weight gain.  In order for this weight gain to be muscle, eating must be coupled with exercise.  

Health Benefits

A quick Google Scholar search returns around 2.4 million results on the health benefits of exercise.  Exercise has shown to produce positive physical and mental health benefits in regular participators.  Regular exercise is associated with prolonging life by around 1.8 years.


Previously discussed is weight management, which is associated with greater health quality.  The CDC states that maintaining a healthy weight can reduce risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and many other obesity related conditions.  These benefits all stem from exercise creating healthy systems in the body.  Since cardio strengthens the heart, it helps to reduce risk of heart disease and stroke.  Since exercise helps to regulate blood sugar, it in turn deters onset of diabetes.  

There are also claims that exercise can boost energy.  This may seem counterintuitive, but many people report feeling refreshed and energized after a light workout.  Increased energy can also be associated with better at night caused by exercise.

Physical activity helps to improve quality of life by making a person feel better.  The reasons for this feeling may vary from person to person.  For me, exercise helps to regulate my blood sugar.  Since I have type 1 diabetes, a lack of insulin production, exercise is vital to controlling my blood sugar to prevent onset of insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes).  Not exercising causes my blood sugar to be higher than normal and increases my resistance to insulin.  This means I am at an unhealthy level and it is harder to lower my blood sugar to a healthy level.  Maintaining a high blood sugar can lead to many negative symptoms such as blurry vision, irritability, and decreased cognitive ability.  In this way, exercise directly affects if I feel good.  This is just one way exercise can improve quality of life.  Despite if someone has type 1 diabetes or not, they will likely feel similar results for a different reason.


There is some evidence to suggest physical activity can reduce risk for depression.  The CDC lists reducing risk of depression as one of the benefits of physical exercise.  Strong mental health is important when attempting to achieve the happiest life possible.  It leads to feeling better about bad situations, heightened performance, and increased motivation.  While physical activity is only one method for maintaining mental health, it is very effective when coupled with other techniques.

The CDC also list that exercise helps to improve cognitive function and prevent the onset of cognitive degeneracy.  Maintaining cognitive function is important to living a high quality life.  Many people fear the steady decline of cognitive function due to diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease.  Physical activity and diet are some of the best ways to combat cognitive degenerative diseases.


Exercise is important to couple with a proper diet to live a healthy lifestyle.  The benefits of exercise include physical and mental health benefits.  Physical activity has shown to decrease risk for a variety of life-threatening conditions, depression, and neurodegenerative diseases.  Because of the numerous benefits exercise provides, it is one of the most efficient ways to improve health.  

Physical activity can range from a short workout of 10 minutes to over an hour.  Completing these workout 3-5 days of the week has shown to increase life expectancy by around 2 years.

Next week we will talk about the importance of sleep and why you should attempt to maintain a proper sleep schedule.