Author: Karl Lenser
“…all parts of the body which have a function, if used in moderation and exercised in labours in which each is accustomed, become thereby healthy, well-developed and age more slowly, but if unused and left idle they become liable to disease, defective in growth, and age quickly.” Hippocrates
So what exactly is metabolism? Why are so many people interested in obtaining a faster one? Your metabolism is an ongoing process that your body undergoes constantly from the day you were born until the day you die. Simply stated, it is a group of chemical and physical actions that help your body create and expend energy (calories.)
Unfortunately, many people have trouble keeping their caloric balance under control and gain unwanted fat stores that can lead to a variety of health problems. As individuals continue to accumulate excess fat stores, their internal engine (metabolism) begins to resemble a fuel-efficient Honda Civic hybrid. For weight loss, your internal engine needs to burn fuel (calories) like a Maserati or Porsche.
So how can you give your metabolic engine a boost and keep it revved up?
Get Moving! The best way to increase your metabolism is to begin a consistent exercise program that involves both cardiovascular and weight training components. Brisk walking, jogging, cycling, elliptical machine workouts, and swimming are examples of what a cardiovascular program should entail.
Strength Training is also a must for those who wish to gain optimal health and increase their metabolism. Using free weights or machine weights three-to-five times a week will help you reduce excess body fat and increase muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically much more active than fat tissue. A pound of muscle requires 35 calories per day to maintain itself, while a pound of fat requires only two calories per day.
Muscle cells require more energy (calories) to keep themselves healthy than fat cells. That is why an individual weighing 180 pounds with 10% body fat will probably be able to ingest more calories (and not gain weight) as opposed to a 180-pound individual with 25% body fat.
Embrace “grazing” as a dietary intake program. Recent studies have shown that eating small meals throughout the day can help keep your internal furnaces stoked for greater caloric expenditure. Believe it or not, but eating will increase your metabolism! Skipping meals and eating like a sparrow will only help to slow your engine down.
Sleep: Get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Research has shown that people who only get five to six hours of sleep are more prone to weight gain.
Stress reduction will definitely help in keeping your internal engine revved up. Excess amounts of physical and emotional stress causes an increase in the output of cortisol, a steroid that slows metabolism
Your internal engine can be revved up by following the guidelines listed above. As with most plans for health and fitness improvements, the key components for improvement involve a consistent exercise plan and a disciplined and closely monitored dietary program.
Karl Lenser is the UALR employee wellness coordinator.