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Learn to work out smarter

This is an excerpt from Smarter Workouts by Pete McCall.

Yes, you have heard that regular exercise is important. Yes, you know that you should probably be doing more of it. But short of that, how much do you really know about exercise and how it affects your body? You may have a number of questions: What is exercise? Why is it so important? How do different types of exercise create changes in the body? What types of exercise should I be doing? How can I identify the best type for my needs? How often should I be exercising and how hard? Where is the best place to achieve the recommended amount of exercise? Do I need to pay for a costly health club or buy lots of expensive exercise equipment that I'm not going to know how to use?

As someone who has been a personal trainer for 20 years and in the business of educating other personal trainers for most of the past 15, including being a media spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, these questions come up all the time from people I meet in health clubs and from fitness reporters working on stories for consumer magazines. Yes, it can be difficult to sort through all the information to find accurate, reliable, evidence-based information; all too often marketers promote a new exercise fad or gimmick without explaining how it works to change your body. If you take the time to learn why exercise is important, the basic science of how various types of exercise apply different kinds of stimuli to your body, and, most importantly, which types you should be doing to help improve your health and achieve the specific results you want, then you will have the tools you need in order to make exercise an integral part of your life.

Here's a startling reality: Each and every single individual will have a different response to exercise. No one who makes a living as a personal trainer, strength coach, group fitness instructor, or health coach can guarantee with 100 percent certainty that exercise will deliver specific results. If anyone ever promises or guarantees that you can get a specific outcome from following their workout program, then your first exercise is to run away, because it is virtually impossible to guarantee specific results. The results you experience from any exercise program will vary based on the types of exercise that you do as well as a number of other lifestyle habits, such as nutrition, sleep, and overall stress levels.

The only thing that is known about exercise and the human body is that regular exercise can promote good health and significantly lower the risk of developing a number of chronic health conditions, while lack of regular exercise and a sedentary lifestyle can reduce life expectancy. Aging is unavoidable, and the normal biological aging process affects all systems in the human body. Evidence suggests that adults with a sedentary lifestyle can expect to experience a more rapid degradation of bodily functions and face a greater risk of premature death than those who make exercise a regular habit (Candow et al. 2011; Taylor and Johnson 2008). If you want to maintain good health and add years to your life while giving you the ability to enjoy all of the things that you love to do, then it is necessary to learn how to make exercise a regular habit.

More Excerpts From Smarter Workouts