Is Your Cardio Routine Making You Fat?

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Are you pushing yourself in the gym, only to find your weight remains stubborn and your energy levels remain low? The amount and kind of exercise you’re doing may be harmful, rather than helpful to your health, fitness and weight goals.

Certain types of exercises like nature walks, hiking, cycling, interval training, strength training, yoga and Pilates can help balance the body’s metabolic needs and have many benefits, including increased blood and oxygen flow to muscles, increased muscle mitochondria (the energy-making powerhouse of cells) and increased fat-burning enzymes. Interval training, or bursts of high-intensity activity, can increase muscle fiber strength, work ability, muscle mitochondria, insulin sensitivity and natural growth hormone. These health benefits sound great right?!

On the other hand, long cardio workouts can often lead to overtraining which depletes your body over time. Chronic high-level aerobic exercises also require a great deal of carbs and sugars to fuel the overexertion, often resulting in increased appetite and a tendency towards binge eating. Other serious downfalls include diminished fat metabolism, increased cortisol (stress hormone) production, and elevated oxidative stress, leading to tissue breakdown and inflammation. Not to mention, long cardio bouts can be time-consuming, repetitive and boring! You may be exercising to reduce stress, but end up creating even more (increased cortisol production) for the body to manage. In addition, muscle wasting follows lowered testosterone and human growth hormone levels, which can all occur with long cardio workouts.

Adrenal fatigue, or adrenal burnout, is a very common response to chronic stress. Often this may become a vicious cycle. People with exhausted adrenals tend to gain weight, so they may resort to more exercise and various other stimulants to spark the body to lose fat which, stresses the worn-out adrenals even further. Recovery is replaced by overexertion; cortisol is pumping and your metabolism continues to slow down over time.

For lasting weight loss and optimal health, we first need to correct our mindset. Break free from the idea that high cardio output equals high fat burn and understand that excessive cardio exhausts and depletes the body, leading to fatigue and more.

So what’s more effective for fat loss? Short and intense interval and resistance training. Even while at rest, muscle burns more calories and more fat, while excess exercise and cardio can just tear muscle for fuel, leaving your metabolism sluggish.

Reconsider your lifestyle approach to muscle building, weight loss and dietary choices. And hey, who wouldn’t prefer efficiency? Less time on boring cardio machines, plus better results from resistance weight training? I’m all for it!

 

Are you doing a cardio program and ready for a change? I’d love to know, comment and share!

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May 2013
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