NW Calgary Naturopath

The Importance of Exercise

My blog today is going to be about exercise…one of the most important lifestyle modifications that you can make for your mental, emotional and physical well being.
There are 3 types of fitness: cardiovascular (running, walking, biking, etc), resistance (lifting weights, squatting, body weight exercises) and flexibility (yoga). All three types are important to include in your exercise routine.
Different types of exercise aren’t good for everybody, and an exercise program should be cleared by your medical doctor before starting or modifying. For example, a patient with disc issues of their low back or neck should speak to their Medical doctor before starting a weight lifting program to ensure they are not worsening their condition.

So what are some benefits of exercise?


  • improved body composition via increased muscle mass and decreased body fat. This is especially true as we age and begin to lose muscle mass. Resistance training can help us maintain/build muscle mass, which in turn increases our metabolism so we can burn more fat. In addition, increased muscle mass can keep us strong which can then reduce our risk of falls and injuries.
  • decreased risk of heart disease. Exercise can decrease blood pressure (although blood pressure will increase during exercise, it tends to lower blood pressure over the rest of the day) and lower cholesterol levels.
  • it helps to maintain bone density (especially resistance training)
  • increased energy levels
  • improved mood. Exercise has been found to decrease feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, decrease pain and increase production of endorphins, which make you feel good!
  • increased insulin sensitivity and decreased risk of Diabetes.
  • it sensitizes your tissue to thyroid hormone
  • improved focus and concentration
  • improved sleep
  • increased sex drive
  • improved self confidence
As you can see there are so many health benefits to exercise, and it plays a significant role in preventing health problems later in life.



So how much exercise is suggested?


Guidelines suggest 150 minutes of exercise per week, at a moderate level where you are sweating with heart rate elevation. This could even include walking dogs, if you are walking at a brisk enough pace to sweat, breathe faster and have an increased heart rate.
It is important to not be doing intense exercise daily, because your body has to recover from each workout. A rest day per week is recommended, and a gentle walk on that day is allowed.
You know you are on the right track if you feel energized after your work out. If you feel sleepy, lethargic, exhausted, or unwell after your workout, then it is time to take some time off from your workouts, or to reduce the intensity, duration and frequency of your workouts.
It can also be helpful to monitor your heart rate during your exercise. Maximum heart rate is 220 beats per minute minus your age. So for example, a 40 year old would have a maximum heart rate of 180 beats per minute. Most exercise guidelines suggest being in between the 60% to 80% of maximum heart rate range, but this would also depend on your fitness level, fitness goals, and duration/frequency of exercise.
As long as you are achieving your fitness goals, and not experiencing any discomfort (such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness or lightheadedness, etc), then you are on the right track. If you aren’t sure you can always speak to your medical doctor, who can advise you based on your blood work, physical exam, and health history. If you are just starting to exercise, it is always best to start lower intensity and at a lower range of heart rate and build up slowly.
Exercise should be a part of your lifestyle routine, so find an activity you enjoy, that doesn’t feel like a chore, and incorporate it! Not everyone enjoys the gym, and not everyone enjoys exercising outdoors. So find some type of activity to lower your stress, boost your mood, and improve your health. Its even better if you can find an exercise buddy, especially in the times that you are too tired to exercise, and they can hold you accountable!
If you have any questions about your exercise and your Naturopathic health plan, feel free to ask me at our next visit!
Naturopathic Vitality Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic
205-5403 Crowchild Trail NW
Calgary, AB T3K 4Z1
(403) 719-2594
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