Regular Exercise Does This to Your Body
When we were kids, we wanted to go outside and play. We ran around, we rode bicycles, and we got sweaty.
Now we are slaves behind a desk and the love for movement has diminished. We ache, are stiff, and why would you want to put yourself through the extra pain of exercise?
While leading an active lifestyle takes a lot of time, dedication, and effort... It's really worth it.
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So if you're thinking about becoming more active, you aren't alone. In fact, I'm willing to bet there's a lot of your friends and family that feel the same way.
Surveys have shown in recent years there is an increasing number of Americans who have started participating in some sports, fitness, and recreation.
It doesn't matter if you're trying to build muscle or burn some body fat — if you're tired of the couch, here are some changes you're going to see along the way.
Here's What Happens When You First Start Exercising
Ideally, you take the step to just start exercising. You don't sit online for weeks reading about how to build a six pack, you aren't spending hours at a time researching nutrition, and you definitely aren't going to let paralysis by analysis happen.
So you just start.
Your first workout will be nerve-racking. You probably won't know what you're doing, but you did it.
Once you get your first workout in, you'll start to feel more alert and energized. This is due to your heart rate elevating — giving you a boost in oxygen and blood flow to your brain.
Here's where obstacle one comes — the delayed onset muscle soreness. You're going to be sore after.
While this soreness feels never-ending, you'll have about 72 hours of being sore, which you can keep tamed by staying active and keeping your blood pumping. The great news is the more consistently you train, the less your body will have extreme soreness.
Since movement is life, you want to get out there. You could hit the gym, hit the trails, walk your neighborhood, do bodyweight exercises at home... it doesn't matter. Just move.
Here's What to Expect After the Next Few Weeks
So a few weeks have gone by and you've been exercising pretty consistently. If you skipped a couple of workouts, you need to have a good reason — not just because you didn't "feel like it."
The muscle soreness isn't as bad, although you're still going to know you worked those muscles.
Since you have been consistent with training, your body is going to start ramping up its mitochondria production via mitochondrial biogenesis.
What Are Mitochondria?
Mitochondria are parts of your cells that will convert carbs, fat, and protein into fuel that your muscles can use.
Studies suggest after six to eight weeks of working out that our bodies can increase mitochondria by up to 50%. With more mitochondria in your cells, you'll feel more fit, and your endurance will start to increase.
That workout won't feel as hard as it did when you first started.
And Six Months Later
Six months later and you have made progress, but you may not see it yet... until now. All of that hard work should start showing.
Some surveys suggest that there is often a 50% dropout rate within the first six months of training. That means you've made it. Everything you've done has become a habit and you can start tweaking and making things work for you.
If you've been focusing more on lifting weights, you'll start to see muscles taking shape and your body will start looking much more athletic. If you've stuck with cardio, after nine months you should see an increase of about 25% in your VO2 max.
Your VO2 max is often used as a measure of your fitness levels and refers to the rate that your body transports oxygen to your muscles for fuel. That basically means the higher VO2 max means you can run faster for longer. A 25% increase in your VO2 max roughly translates to 20% farther in the same amount of time.
One Year Later
Did you know that research has found combining resistance training with aerobic exercise can reverse the effects of osteoporosis after just 12 months?
Now that you've put a year into the new you, your bones will be denser.
By now, you're starting to figure out what works for you and what doesn't. You've created a host of new healthy habits that will lead you to a healthier lifestyle.
If you've made it this far, it's smooth sailing after this — regardless of your fitness goals.
What Happens Long-Term?
Being active and healthy for the long-term is great on your body, but studies also found that those who exercise five days a week for at least 30 minutes saved on average $2,500 a year in medical costs for heart-related health problems alone.
Not only that, but your risk of developing arthritis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and certain types of cancer like breast and colon are significantly reduced.
To put it frankly, you're going to live longer than you would if you didn't start. It's that simple.
Your longer life will now be more fulfilling since exercise reduces anxiety and depression by reducing your levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
Wrapping It Up
All of these benefits all depend on how consistent you exercise. Oh, and you'll also need to eat a well-rounded diet.
The US Department of Health and Human Services recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise per week, like brisk walking or biking. Or if you are into high-intensity training, 75 minutes of moderate and high-intensity workouts.
I'd invite you to lift some weights, too. Taking a couple of days to do some resistance training will strengthen your muscles, improve your posture, and make life easier. I mean seriously, how do you expect to carry all of the groceries in on one trip if you can't carry 40 pounds?
Lifting will also help with your endurance and overall speed. This is why football players and any other running sport often train their posterior chain for that explosive energy.
This is a long-term strategy.
There are no shortcuts. In fact, if you try taking a shortcut, you risk serious injury and burnout. The more weight you lose and the more your body gets used to moving, the easier it will be to keep moving.
Seriously, the hardest part is to get started and then make it past that six month's of hell — the rest is fueled by new healthy habits and a desire to meet your goals.
Exercise smart. Move often. Eat amazing foods.