Physical activity, even very low intensity that most would not call exercise, activates muscle, raising metabolism significantly for up to a quarter hour after movement has stopped.  This is why postural adjustments and activity breaks have such a large metabolic benefit beyond what you would expect.  Movement at intensities most would consider “exercise” has further benefits by triggering changes in DNA gene expression that increase metabolism even further.

Postural adjustments

Postural adjustments: After adjusting your posture or activating muscles briefly, muscle keeps idling even though at rest, burning as much as ten times the Calories that it would at rest without periodic muscle activation.  The body shifts into the lowest Calorie burn as much as possible in response to dieting and/or hard exercise to “survive” its “starvation” experience, countering their benefits.  Postural adjustments help to counter the metabolic shut-down that comes from those efforts.

Regular activity breaks

Regular activity breaks: walking or light exercise movements even for just a minute or two several times per day triggers a higher metabolism that increases Calorie use (normalizing blood sugar in those with metabolic disease risk) not only during the day but through the night afterwards.

Endurance exercise

Endurance exercise: our ability to burn Calories and particularly fats is dependent on the elimination of any bottleneck in the fat burning process, which starts with fat delivery into the bloodstream and ends with the fat turning into carbon dioxide (we literally breathe out our burned fat).  The highest intensity endurance exercise (bursts that cannot be maintained > 3 min) maximizes our muscle cells’ increase in fat burning after the exercise is completed, whereas lower intensity (the highest you could maintain for 10 min) maximizes our body’s adaptation for fat and oxygen delivery.  Still lower intensities target the cardiovascular system, with all three of these intensities working together to enable each step in the metabolic flow underlying fat burning.

Strengthening exercise

Strengthening exercise: the more lean tissue we have, the more effective our endurance exercise for fat loss, and the greater our metabolic reserve to fight against metabolic disease risk.  This is why strengthening can be critically important to realize greater benefits from our other exercise efforts.  High resistance triggers muscle growth to recover losses incurred with natural aging, stress, low sleep, and other factors.  Faster resistance exercise movement focus on power, meaning the rate at which the nervous system coordinates our muscles, critical to using strength to increase everyday quality of life.  Low resistance at a slower pace triggers our muscles to increase their ability to sustain force for longer durations, matching our muscular endurance to our cardiovascular endurance, matching all components of our internal metabolic flow.

Movement throughout the day keeps our muscles idling, endurance exercise increases our fat burning capacity, and strengthening leverages both.  It is the combination of these movement intensities that work together to create the metabolic flow to make full use of our sleep/stress balance and nutrient efforts.