I heard an interview recently with a researcher who asked dozens of nutrition experts what they think the most important thing is when it comes to achieving lifelong health. Being nutrition experts you’d think their advice would center around food. How to make healthy food choices. How to get more vitamins and nutrients. How to cut back on unhealthy foods. But, it didn’t. Every single nutrition expert interviewed for the piece said that the number one factor for sustaining optimal health is exercise.
The experts agree that exercise isn’t just valuable as a way to burn off excess calories. In fact, they think its real value is in its ability to help you form lean muscle. When your body is made up of lean muscle it not only burns more calories when you’re active, it also raises your resting metabolic rate so you burn more calories even when you’re doing nothing. And as we age, maintaining lean muscle is even more important because your metabolism naturally slows down as you get older.
So, although you may have heard about all different types of wonder pills and supplements that supposedly stimulate your metabolism – like green tea, apple cider vinegar, etc., the only proven thing that actually works is exercise. While cardiovascular exercise is beneficial to your heart and lungs and for combating stress, the best type of exercise for building lean muscle is resistance training. This includes exercises that stimulate your muscles by weight training, using resistance bands and body weight exercises.
With resistance or strength training, you’ll burn calories during your workout, but the real magic happens afterward. When you’re strength training, your muscles will burn about 9 calories per pound per day doing nothing. That’s almost 50% more than with cardiovascular training alone. For the average person this can mean 250 additional calories a day – or up to 20 pounds of calories a year!