The Benefits of Being Physically Active, Beyond Looks

My heart scan results came five days before my wedding. At 34, I had heart disease in the artery known as the widow-maker. It was hard to stomach the words on the report even though I knew why. Two months prior, a body composition test revealed my first shock. I had fat piling up around my organs, putting me at risk for type 2 diabetes. The entire experience was humbling.

Despite being a doctor that jogs on the boardwalk, I was heading towards being on medications. I was not invincible, and many aspects of what I was doing were wrong. My name is Dr. Kevin Pacheco and Iā€™m the founder of Beyond Practice, a doctor-designed challenge that empowers you to avoid medical conditions and lifelong prescriptions.

The five key lessons from this article:

  1. Insulin resistance is the root of the common medical conditions of today’s society.
  2. Elevated insulin prevents burning fat and causes weight gain
  3. Prescribing different medications for each pathological result of insulin resistance is not the best strategy.
  4. Strategies that create positive hormonal responses will get you results.
  5. The timing and quality of exercise matter, and HIIT is a powerful tool.

The first sign of insulin resistance is when your muscle cannot store blood sugar well [R]. Your body requires more insulin to get the job done. You do need insulin to control blood sugar. Yet, insulin also makes you hungry and prevents you from burning fat. Besides weight gain, elevated insulin leads to high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol. By combating insulin resistance, you help to prevent far more than type 2 diabetes. My experience demonstrates how you can develop heart disease before blood sugar rises.

So what is the treatment for the underlying cause of these conditions and stubborn body fat?

Most people would agree that a handful of pills to manage the conditions is not an optimal solution. We should be prescribing more than the guidance to “eat less and exercise.” The best strategies pay attention to the timing and quality of food and activity.

The example that most often shocks people is how jogging for hours may work against you. Here is how it works:

  • Your muscles need tension during exercise to signal increased growth hormone and testosterone. These two hormones help to preserve muscle tissue when you are in a calorie deficit.
  • A chronic calorie deficit signals to decrease your thyroid function. It reduces your metabolism, the number of calories you burn at rest.
  • Prolonged jogging mimics chronic calorie restriction and does not provide enough muscular tension.

When you jog for hours, you may lose weight. Yet, the mass you are losing includes muscle, and your body is lowering your thyroid function. Both result in lower metabolism. This metabolic trap is why many people put on more weight the minute they stop jogging.

In comparison, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) promotes positive responses in your hormones [R]. Healthy levels of hormones like testosterone are critical to prevent insulin resistance. These sessions promote increased muscle and a strong foundation. The difference is evident when comparing the bodies of a marathon runner vs. a sprinter.

Another benefit of HIIT is that it saves you time. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity or a combination of both [R]. They prefer to have this spread throughout the week. Many people only seem to pay attention to the first half of the recommendation. We miss the option of 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity. We also tend to overlook the advice to spread exercise throughout the week. Spending 2.5 hours jogging on the weekend does not produce the same results as five 15 minute HIIT sessions. HIIT is more efficient in improving VO2 max and cardiovascular function.

I no longer jog for hours, and now I prescribe ClassPass HIIT workouts. Our team took it one step further to add our strength training videos and build a full 10-week program. With thousands of on-demand online workouts, ClassPass has options for all levels. We combined our video education to create our Strong Foundations program.

Here is what it includes:

  • The science of why building a strong foundation is critical to your longevity. 
  • How healthy testosterone levels prevent heart disease in both men and women. 
  • It showcases how to lift with proper technique and answers all the common questions.
  • Then it turns up with heat by prescribing premium ClassPass content.

As a member of the ClassPass community, we are offering free complimentary access. To get started, click here.

Dr. Pacheco is the CEO and Founder of Beyond Practice. Realizing the limitations of pills, he created the Transform10 challenge. It guides people in how to turn simple-yet-proven strategies into habits. His mission is to empower 10 million people to avoid medical conditions and prescriptions.

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