Exercise is the most under-utilized anti-depressant

Published in the Oct. 28 – Nov. 10, 2015 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Tracee Gluhaich

Tracee Gluachaich

Tracee Gluachaich

Morgan Hill happens to be a very physically active community. We have fantastic parks, biking trails and gyms where our residents burn calories and build muscle. But do you know what being physically fit actually means?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines physical fitness as “a set of attributes that people have or achieve that relates to the ability to perform physical activity.” This does not mean simply going to Zumba class every night of the week, or being able to run up Mt. Madonna, or clean and press 150 pounds. While these are all wonderful achievements, it’s best to be proficient at all five components of fitness.
Let’s take a deeper look at these components and how they impact our state of wellness.

Muscular Strength — With age, our muscles get weaker, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

By lifting weights, you can increase muscular strength, which will help you actually age backwards. Weight training works fast-twitch muscle fibers which will boost your metabolism even while at rest. My favorites are lifting heavy in the gym, Boot Camp, TRX or Cross Fit.

Muscular Endurance — This is the ability of your body to perform exercise over a certain length of time. You will work the slow-twitch muscle fibers while enjoying activities like Body Pump, Pilates, hiking, or cycling.

Cardio-respiratory Endurance — Your heart is the most important muscle in your body, and it must be worked. There are two types of cardiovascular exercise and they are both necessary to turn back your biological clock.

Low intensity steady state, aka fat burning zone, is one way to train your heart. This is about 60 percent to 65 percent of maximum heart rate and can be achieved either on a brisk power walk, or a spin on the stationary bicycle.

High-Intensity Interval Training is when your heart rate is at 70 percent to 85 percent of maximum and where you challenge your heart for a time, and then give it a short recovery period, and then challenge it again. The goal here is to increase your VO2 max, your recovery time, and to boost your metabolism. Hiking up the hills at Harvey Bear County Park, taking a HIIT class, spin class or boot camp will do the trick here.

Flexibility — One of the most overlooked and highly important components of fitness, the ability to be flexible helps prevent injuries. My favorite activity is yoga which allows participants to enjoy some muscle strengthening as well.

Foam rolling is helpful here. The foam roller breaks up the muscle fascia (think the white thin layer on a piece of meat) and will help you be able to stretch the belly of the muscle instead of mostly the ends.

Body Composition — Simply put, this is your fat to lean mass ratio. What weighs more, a pound of fat or a pound of muscle? When I ask this question during my Wellness Game Show, some people actually argue the answer, which is: they weigh the same…a pound.

The only difference is the muscle takes up less space in your jeans while the fat creates that lovely muffin top. To look the best in our clothes, we want more muscle mass and less fat.

While food is the most abused anxiety drug, exercise is the most under utilized anti-depressant. It also:


• Gives you energy and makes you more alert
• Creates an endorphin rush
• Makes you relaxed
• Sweating increases the lymphatic flow which cleans out more toxins
• Improves your immune system
• Reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer
• Lowers blood pressure and blood fats
• Increases your metabolism

It’s never too late to start the fitness habit. Just ask Willie Murphy the 77-year-old power lifter who could only lift five pounds when she first started four years ago. Now she can dead-lift 220 pounds, more than half her weight.

As a personal trainer, my goal is to help you fall in love with fitness. If you don’t love it, you’ve got to be doing it wrong.

Tracee Gluhaich is a local health coach and personal trainer. Check out her website at www.highenergygirl.com. She wrote this for Morgan Hill Life.

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi is the editor of Morgan Hill Life newspaper. If you have a story idea or an Around Town column item you want to tell him about, you can reach him at (408) 427-5865 or at editor@morganhilllife.com.
Robert Airoldi