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Exercise Recommendations

At the Nutritional Healing Center we see people of all types will all types of health complaints. We see a range of complaints from injuries (back, neck, shoulder, knee, etc.) to chemical problems (low energy, acute or chronic illnesses, headaches, etc.) and emotional problems such as depression. One thing we see in our patients is a faster return to health when we incorporate some regular exercise into their lives. Some types of exercises are not appropriate for all people. Anaerobic exercise or strength training is sometimes recommended but only when a person is ready to handle it. Often aerobic exercise is recommended to help people increase heart and lung health as well as increase endurance and energy levels.

For those people with indications of needing aerobic exercise I recommend that they get a heart rate monitor. Heart rate monitors help us to keep our heart exercising within certain parameters, not too much, not too little. One thing that has been observed is that many people may take an "aerobics" class and think that they are getting aerobic exercise. Other people may take up running, bicycling, or jogging and think they are getting aerobic exercise. This is often not the case! For exercise to be considered aerobic the exercise must not push your heart rate too high, the main fuel for aerobic exercise must be fat, and aerobic exercise must be able to be done for long periods of time if necessary.

Most people bicycle, run, do aerobics, or jog too fast! We think that fast is better. We think that if we run fast that we will get aerobic benefits. Sure our heart beats wildly and way too fast but we hope that our heart rate will come down as we get more "fit." This is not the way to do it! Instead, aerobic exercise must start with us exercising at a target heart rate. Often, for beginners, this heart rate seems too low. They feel that they are not "hurting"enough or feeling "the burn" so it must be too easy. This is false! People will start at a target heart rate and over the months of exercising they will begin to run or bicycle faster and faster but the heart rate will remain the same. In this fashion fat is consistently used as the energy source and shifts in metabolism are made. People become more energetic, feel more peaceful and calm, and get heart and lung benefits. When people run faster than is necessary they use sugar as their energy source, it does not promote endurance very well, and it is easy to feel worn out after the workout.

On the other hand, sometimes patients benefit from anaerobic exercising for health reasons. One of the best ways to do this is with strength training. You can do this at home or at a commercial gym. Strength training specifically targets muscles to work hard in short bursts and then to rest and let the muscles grow. Strength training is done with weights and machines for providing resistance to our movements. Many people will benefit from having a personal trainer or coach show them through some basic, simple exercises that will improve strength.

A key benefit from strength training is an increase in strength! When we feel stronger we don't feel like we are easy to break. When we feel stronger we are more confident. When we feel stronger it is easier to lift objects, stand tall, and do the things we want to do. Strength training causes muscles to grow and enhances the shape of our bodies and enhances our curves in all the right ways! Strength training can help people to lose weight by increasing their metabolism. Muscle needs more energy to keep it working than fat does. So if your diet remains the same and you become more muscular your muscles demand more of your calories to maintain their needs. Muscles burn more energy and help you to lose weight when you are at rest!

Strength training is especially important for women and elderly people. Women benefit enormously from the boost in self-confidence, improved posture, and upper body strength that strength training provides. Elderly people benefit strongly from strength training because it helps to keep muscle mass on the body. Elderly people need to stay active and strong so that they do not fall into the trap of feeling frail and unable to be active. Strength training also helps to increase bone density which is important for mature adults and women also. Remember, though, that "strong"is a relative term. I do not expect my patients to go and become bodybuilders or to compete in strong man competitions. The idea is to increase your strength from what is used to be, to improve yourself.

Women will never look like men from strength training. If a woman ever reaches a point where she wants her muscles to remain at a certain size she can just keep her resistance training at the same level. Without continued increases in resistance muscles will not grow bigger. Most women, though, will never reach a point where they feel too big from their muscles. This is an excuse for women to not try strength training. Most glamour models do strength training for keeping their shape. It is a fun way to look and feel good.

Usually if a person is able to do it I recommend some of both types of exercise. Aerobic and anaerobic training are both helpful so why not do some of both! Try going to a gym for 2 days a week for strength training and getting some aerobic exercise for 3 days a week. If you do these exercises on the weekdays then you have the weekends to "relax" and do the activities that you couldn't do before you felt so great. On the weekends you may be playing tennis, golfing, swimming, walking, or going skiing in the winter. An active life is usually what we all want. It is easier to have an active life when your metabolism has you full of energy, you are at an optimum weight, and you have enough strength to play with zest. I encourage everyone to incorporate exercise into their weekly routines if possible. Please feel free to call with questions. Optimum health is our goal.