Exercise (assuming it is done correctly) in any form is a positive action and all who participate will benefit for spending their time actively rather than passively.
However, if your exercise efforts are toward burning calories and losing excess body fat, and your exercise routine is built around aerobic exercise, then you need to hear and understand the truth about aerobic activity and what it really takes for you to kick up your metabolism, your inner fat burning machine, because it's your metabolism that is burning calories for you. The more your burn, the more weight you lose. Pretty simple equation.
The reality is, all exercise burns calories including aerobic activity (which includes stationary treadmills, jogging, swimming and all other low impact but long duration physical activity) do indeed burn calories. But, when the exercise stops, burning those calories does as well.
Additionally, if you continue to indulge in only aerobic exercise, the body acclimates itself to this process. The result ensures your muscles are stocked with glycogen, thus preventing you from tapping into your body fat reserves even though you stick to your workout without faltering.
This can be frustrating at best to those looking to their exercise routine as a major component towards burning calories and taking off excess weight.
The truth is, our body's metabolic rate is key to weight loss and, it is not cast in stone, it is highly malleable, putting us in control. We can lower this fat burning mechanism through our choice of wrong exercise, or we can act in such a way as to force our metabolic rate to increase allowing us to burn more calories daily.
In other words, we can, with the right choice of exercise harness the fat-burning power of increased metabolism.
Metabolic exercising, exercises that raise metabolism and forces the body to burn fat all day long, requires a vastly different approach.
The true fast path to increasing metabolism through exercise is to replace low-impact aerobic activity with strength training exercise – the kind of activity that builds lean muscle.
Strength training itself does not increase metabolism, but it does build muscle and that in turn increases metabolism because muscle tissue is active tissue and requires fuel to do its work.
It needs to burn fuel to keep warm (even when not flexing) and be ready to perform whenever called upon to do so, even at a moment's notice.
Fat tissue has a lower capacity to keep itself warm and is not able to perform actions that expend energy (when moving mass around), while muscles shine in this area.
This is precisely why 10 pounds of muscle tissue is much preferred over 10 pounds of fat tissue. Muscle tissue is empowered to burn fat all day long while the fat tissue just sits doing nothing.
Each pound of muscle is empowered to consume about 10 calories per day – and that is a "sitting on the couch" rate.
That may not seem like much but multiply that number by an extra 10 pounds of lean muscle tissue and you will up that number to about 100 calories daily.
That number results in about a pound of fat each month! Now, we're looking at true weight loss.
You can easily increase this rate by adding physical activity (when not doing your strength training) to your day. Now, the number of calories each pound of muscle consumes can be anywhere from 2-5 times as much.
Strong, lean, healthy, muscle tissue is the real secret weapon in the fight against flab and it comes with added benefits as well, some of which could be, a reduction in high blood pressure as well as back pain, decreased risk of developing osteoporosis (strength training increases bone density) lasting through your senior years.
Lean, strong, muscles never switch off. After completing your strength-training workout, you will still be burning calories for at least 24-48 hours post-workout even burning calories while you sleep. How's that for getting the full "bang for your buck?"
You will not only enjoy a real boost in metabolic rate, but strength training improves your energy reserves and helps to transform your body into that firm, defined look we all want and cannot be achieved by cardio exercise alone.
For the gentleman – erectile dysfunction comes into play because the sex lives of those who sport a pot belly is severely compromised. Just another very good reason to add lean muscle tissue through challenging strength training exercise.
And for the ladies – you need to put "old wives' tales" of building too much muscle and being too bulky aside because they are not based in fact. In other words, it's time to step out of your comfort zone, put the mini weights away, and challenge yourself with real strength training.
Correct strength training (if the exercises you are doing are done incorrectly, then the result will be less than desirable) paired with strong intention is what builds lean, strong muscles empowered to boost our metabolism and give us the ability to burn excess calories.
It's the cumulative effect of burning those extra calories over time that adds up and counts. No matter what your end goal is in relation to losing excess fat and getting fit, enjoying a fast metabolism through sporting healthy, lean, strong muscles is a positive, healthy step towards getting there.
• Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.