I’ve decided to start a series of articles focused on exposing deleterious influences on our bodies. The first topic will be about not exercising, which is not to be confused with “not exercising enough”. I’d like to talk a bit about not exercising “at all”.
This one is a bit of a no-brainer because the effects of sedentary lifestyles can be seen in all cultures: increased waistlines, sleep apnea, lack of energy, and decreased sex drive are only a few examples. Exercise causes the body to go through a renewal process, which keeps everything “like new”. Cells break down and get replaced at a much faster rate in a body that gets plenty of exercise. One of the studies about this subject shows that the bodies of men who get regular resistance training will behave vastly different after exercise than the bodies of untrained men after exercise, as related to apoptosis (programmed cell death). Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels are much higher in trained men after exercise. IGF-1 regulates levels of growth hormone in the body, which is one of the principal hormones that helps the body repair itself. So if you exercise regularly, you are much better equipped to recover after a bout of intense exercise.
The analogy that immediately comes to mind is the relationship between a car’s engine and the gas tank. The gas tank is used to store gasoline, which is a store of energy, just like body fat. The engine uses the energy in gasoline to propel the car, just like the body uses fat to stay alive. If you leave your car in the driveway for a year without starting it up once in a while, it will be very hard to start, and the engine will take a while to get going at the same efficiency level as before. The human body is no different and if you live a sedentary lifestyle, your engine (muscle mass) is not being used.
When you start exercising, it will take a while to get going at first, your engine needs a tune up and some cleaning. If, on the other hand, you keep your engine tuned up, it will be much easier to get going and, more importantly, to keep going without breaking down.
This is why I recommend resistance training at least twice a week, with some light exercise interspersed for good measure. I’ve personally had a bit of a break in my exercise routine lately due to some minor complications in my life, but I felt much better when I exercised regularly and I can see the difference now, even when doing something simple like walking up a flight of stairs.