Metabolism is the sum total of all chemical reactions involved in maintaining the living state of the human cell. It can be divided into two categories: catabolism or the break down of molecules to obtain energy; and anabolism or the synthesis of all compounds needed by the cells (examples are DNA, RNA, and protein synthesis). A more simplistic view would be that metabolism is the various processes in the body that convert food and other substances into energy. 70% of the calories your body burns are used for basic functions such as breathing and blood circulation. 20% is used for physical activities like walking, running participating in sports. 10% is used in the digestive process.

Are there ways to effect or change the burn rate? The answer is yes. One way is to increase physical activity which will increase your need for energy. You can do more yard work or take walks several times a week. You can dial it up even more by participating in more intense exercise such as lifting weights or doing cardio exercises. Remember that physical activity or exercise is only 20% of your total calorie burn so you may want to dial up your exercise intensity and dial down your calorie intake in order to see any real results. Make sure you are eating healthy foods high in protein and complex carbohydrates.

Weight training and resistance training are really good ways to heat up your metabolism. Muscle burns calories, fat doesn’t. The more lean muscle you have the more calories you will burn. Also, keep in mind that a pound of fat weights the same as a pound of muscle however a pound of fat has 3 times more volume. Track your progress by taking measurements in addition to weighing in.

Many people enthusiastically start a new exercise program just to get sidelined shortly after due to a fitness injury. Enthusiasm to make gains can very easily make you overlook that you could be at risk of injury from over doing it. Here are few suggestions to help avoid injury.  

Listen to your body – If your body says “That hurts” then reconsider what you are doing and how you are doing it. You should expect some discomfort when you begin a new exercise program. There is a difference between discomfort and pain. If you experience pain you should stop and re-examine what you are doing.

Know your exercises – Know how an exercise is going to impact your body, your joints etc. Consider working with a personal trainer to learn the proper form for the exercises you are doing. Another option is to search out the proper form on the internet for each of your exercises. There are many websites that will give detailed information on how to do exercises.

Don’t take advice from people at the gym unless you know for a fact they have a complete understanding of exercise physiology. Most gyms have trainers on staff that will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Give your body time to adjust to new exercises. Don’t expect immediate results. It could be tempting to step up the intensity of an exercise and put yourself at risk of injury. Give your body time to adjust.

Understand how the machines at the gym work. You can very easily get hurt by not knowing how to properly use them. It would be easy to load up the incline leg press with more weight than you can handle and end up injuring your legs or back.

Understand what contraindicated exercises are. These are exercises that have been identified as having a higher probability of causing injury. Here’s a list of exercises that I would advise you to avoid.

Deep Squats – Squats are very good for your core strength. Deep squats can be harmful. When squatting, you should keep your hips parallel to the floor and don’t allow you’re your hips to drop below your knees. This may overstretch the ligaments in people who may already have unstable knee joints.

Leg Extensions - This exercise places a lot of unnecessary pressure on the patella (knee cap). In addition is can cause the patella to grind against the femur.

Behind the head Lat Pull Downs – There is no reason or gain by putting weight behind your head and center of gravity. What you are doing in essentially causing gravity to pull y our head forward, and over time, your cervical spine will cause your head to hang forward

With one in three adults over the age of 65 falling each year, experts recommend that seniors participate in exercise that targets balance and joint stability. Joint stability and balance are key factors in preventing falls and injuries. Falls are serious, especially if they result in a hip fracture. The one-year mortality rate after a hip fracture is as high as 25 percent. The best defense against injuries of this type is an exercise program that focuses on retaining and adding lean muscle mass. Lean muscle mass around joints helps retain the integrity of the joint and can help prevent over extension and injury. 

The first step of course is to have a discussion with your doctor about exercise and seek his or her approval and recommendations. You don’t have to work out with heavy weights to benefit. Depending on your age and level of fitness you can exercise with as little as 10 pound weights and still gain benefits. I’m 66 and I have a fairly challenging workout program. I do a “split” workout, upper body on Monday and Thursday and lower body on Tuesday and Friday. I work with medium heavy weights, bench press 135 pounds, shoulder press 100 pounds, curls 25 pound dumbbells. If you are able to do this that’s great but start out slowly.

If you are older and not used to exercise you may want to check out some local gyms and see if they offer the Silver Sneakers Program. It’s a workout program that is targeted for the older set. Many health insurance companies will cover the cost of the gym membership.

Balance is critical for staying safe and a strong muscular-skeletal system promotes good balance. When you create or choose and exercise plan be sure to include exercises that strengthen your ankles and legs. Here’s a link to some suggested exercises from the Mayo Clinic.

Yoga is another really good way to improve your balance. Improve your balance and you'll also strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility and muscular control. Here’s a link with several poses that will help improve your balance.

I came across some new terms today while I was reading up on how our bodies store and manage fat. There are two types of fat in our bodies, white fat and brown fat. White fat is important in energy metabolism, heat insulation and mechanical cushioning.Brown fat is found mostly in newborn babies, between the shoulders, and is important for thermogenesis (making heat). Since adult humans have little to no brown fat, we'll concentrate on white fat in this article. See the bottom of this page for more on brown fat. Take a few minutes to read this really well written article by Dr. Craig Freudenrich Ph. D. (How Stuff that explains the importance of these fats.

Body Fat Basics

The human body contains two types of fat tissue:
  • White fat is important in energy metabolism, heat insulation and mechanical cushioning.
  • Brown fat is found mostly in newborn babies, between the shoulders, and is important for thermogenesis (making heat). Since adult humans have little to no brown fat, we'll concentrate on white fat in this article. See the bottom of this page for more on brown fat.
Fat tissue is made up of fat cells, which are a unique type of cell. You can think of a fat cell as a tiny plastic bag that holds a drop of fat. White fat cells are large cells that have very little cytoplasm, only 15 percent cell volume, a small nucleus and one large fat droplet that makes up 85 percent of cell volume.

How Fat Enters Your Body When you eat food that contains fat, mostly triglycerides, it goes through your stomach and intestines. In the intestines, the following happens: 

  1. Large fat droplets get mixed with bile salts from the gall bladder in a process calledemulsification. The mixture breaks up the large droplets into several smaller droplets called micelles, increasing the fat's surface area.
  2. The pancreas secretes enzymes called lipases that attack the surface of each micelle and break the fats down into their parts, glycerol and fatty acids.
  3. These parts get absorbed into the cells lining the intestine.
  4. In the intestinal cell, the parts are reassembled into packages of fat molecules (triglycerides) with aprotein coating called chylomicrons. The protein coating makes the fat dissolve more easily in water.
  5. The chylomicrons are released into the lymphatic system -- they do not go directly into thebloodstream because they are too big to pass through the wall of the capillary.
  6. The lymphatic system eventually merges with the veins, at which point the chylomicrons pass into the bloodstream.

         (Read More)

Where Do I Begin?
Deciding to begin an exercise program is an important decision and should not be taken lightly. You should think it through and get advice from others as to what level of exercise will be good for you. Talk to your doctor and make him aware of what you are going to do. You may even want to ask him for suggestions that conform to your health level. Exercise can be done by just about anyone at any age. You just have to make sure you choose the correct level of activity. If you are 65 and in reasonably good health you should be able to do more intense training than someone who is 80 but even at 80 there are programs specific to your age group. Silver Sneakers has been very successful in keeping the elderly fit and healthy. You can check them out at SilverSneakers.Com

Exercise and strength training helps you look and feel younger and stay active longer. Begin slowly to avoid injury. Regular physical activity lowers your risk for a variety of conditions, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, high blood pressure, and obesity. Here are a few of the benefits you get from regular exercise:

        - Lower blood pressure
        - Reduced risk of heart disease 
        - Increased endurance, strength, energy, and productivity 
        - Reduced stress 
        - Improved body tone and enhanced attractiveness 
        - Reduced risk of osteoporosis 
        - Protection against adult-onset diabetes 
        - Help with smoking cessation

Key Elements of Your Program
Every exercise program should include these 5 elements in order to be a complete program:
Balance – by improving your balance you will avoid potential injury from falls.
Flexibility - reduce the risk of injury and prepare your muscles for vigorous activity with dynamic stretching and gentle cardio before a workout and static stretching at the end.
Strength - Weightlifting and resistance training is one of the most effective ways to develop muscle. Lean and healthy muscle mass will help you keep your metabolism and burn more calories. Strength training also helps maintain joint stability and prevents injuries.
Core Stability – The muscles in your abdomen lower back and pelvis are your core muscles. Core strength helps keep your upper and lower body stabile and protect your back from injury
Aerobic Fitness – Aerobic exercise causes you to breathe faster and more deeply, which maximizes the amount of oxygen in your blood. The better your aerobic fitness, the more efficiently your heart, lungs and blood vessels transport oxygen throughout your body Aerobic exercise includes any physical activity that uses large muscle groups and increases your heart rate. Try walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, water aerobics — even leaf raking, snow shoveling and vacuuming.

Get as much information as possible before deciding. There are many websites and publications to help you through the process. There are exercises and workouts on this website for you to use. (go there)
Most all remember you are making a lifestyle change not just exercising.

I have a habit of researching all of the advice given by my doctor.  Recently my wife was advised that she may have a vitamin D deficiency and of course that prompted me to take another look at vitamins in general. I discovered some interesting information that you may want to consider. First I will share with you that I learned that our primary source of vitamin D is from sunlight. I was aware of that but I did not know that sunlight is supplies 80% to 90% of our Vitamin D needs. Other sources are fatty fish (Salmon), whole fat milk and egg yolks. Without Vitamin your body can’t process calcium. Most of us can get enough of this vitamin by exposure to sunlight and eating healthy. Many of the food products we eat are fortified with vitamin D. The only recommendations I found for Vitamin D taking supplements would be if you are over 65 or if you are pregnant.  

Multi Vitamins - The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force neither recommends nor advises against multivitamins (or other supplements) for preventing cancer or cardiovascular disease. Yet many researchers say a multivitamin has a role as "a very inexpensive insurance policy," says David Schardt, senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nutrition advocacy group in Washington, D.C. There's no need for anything fancy that claims "heart health" or "prostate health" benefits, he says; an inexpensive, basic brand is fine. (Vitamins and Supplements: Do They Work? The picture is mixed, but thumbs up for vitamin D and calcium - By U.S. News Staff).

Vitamin C - Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin, which is needed by the body to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels, and which aids in the absorption of iron. Dietary sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits such as oranges. Severe deficiency of vitamin C causes scurvy. Although rare, scurvy includes potentially severe consequences and can cause sudden death. Patients with scurvy are treated with vitamin C and should be under medical supervision.

Vitamin C Supplements - Vitamin C is generally regarded as safe in amounts normally obtained from foods. Vitamin C supplements are also generally regarded as safe in most individuals in recommended amounts, although side effects are rarely reported, including nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal cramps, and headache. Dental erosion may occur from chronically chewing vitamin C tablets. (more)

In the last quarter of 2012 the company I was working for notified employees that they were changing the health coveraged offered by the company. The change required employees to pay higher deductibles and perform additional functions to qualify for benefits. Since I was already qualified for Medicare I decided to not enroll in the company plan and move my coverage over to Medicare. in mid november I went to the medicare website and enrolled and then tried to enroll with AARP Medicare Complete for my Supplemental coverage. That's when the nightmare began. No matter what I did the AARP system would not let me enroll. It kept telling me I was not eligible. Medicare said I was enrolled and eligible for the AARP coverage but AARP couldn't get me covered. It took over 20 phone calls to the problem resolved. I finally showed up on the AARP system in late December. In early January sustained and eye injury and had to go to my eye doctor. This was my first visit in qa few years and the staff at Brevard Eye Center verified my coverage. They called me and advised that my AARP coverage was not active. Nobody could explain to me why. I had to make multiple calls to AARP and Medicare to get this resolved. The bill was stuill unpaid as of beginning of March. I also signed up for a gym membership under the Silver Sneakers program from AARP. My membership was cancelled in error by Silver Sneakers two weeks after I signed up. It took me two weeks to get my membership reinstated.  I was finally able to get everything resolved except the bill for the eye doctor. I'm still waiting for that to be resolved. This was one of the worst customer service experiences I have ever encountered. I am not looking forward to changes from Obama Care that I know are coming in 2013.