Understanding Exercise Science to Improve Your Health

Often when you know better, you can do better. It’s easier to stick to workouts and nutrition plans when you understand the process and what’s happening before you even start to see results. 

Our bodies are impressive machines. It is incredible to consider some of the adaptations that occur once you start exercising and eating healthy. Many of these benefits are not visible to the human eye. Most people would not be aware of these internal adaptations, but they are laying a foundation for optimal health and fitness. 

One important area to understand is the role of mitochondria. They…

  • Are the organelles within our cells where energy is produced in our bodies.
  • Powerhouses in our cells and transform chemical energy (food) into mechanical energy (movement).
  • Produce 90% of the energy, in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), that we need to survive.
  • Are what most of our cells, tissues and organs rely on to function. This includes our brain, heart, and muscles.
  • Can be damaged by physical inactivity, poor nutrition, aging, smoking, pollution, toxins, drugs and illness. This can negatively imp
    act our overall health, energy, and cause disease. 

It’s critical that we take actions to preserve the overall functioning of our mitochondria. This will ultimately improve the functioning of all our cells, tissues and organs.

Longevity and quality of life is directly dependent on our mitochondria. Taking action in the following areas is extremely important:


Studies show that both cardiovascular exercise and strength training increase the size, number and functioning of mitochondria in our bodies, a massive benefit to our overall health and longevity.

Movement is the best way to increase our mitochondria and increase our overall energy.

Try to expend a minimum of 300 calories doing cardio activities like walking, jogging, biking, swimming, hiking, and/or dancing three to five times per week.

Add in strength training two to three days per week focusing on compound, multi-muscle movements like squats, lunges, step ups, rows, and presses. Challenge your muscles with 1-3 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise. 

Food is Medicine

Growth, repair and proper functioning of your mitochondria require a healthy balance of all your macronutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consume a predominantly plant-based diet with a wide range of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, lean proteins and high-quality fats. Minimize your consumption of processed foods, added sugars and alcohol. 


A lack of sleep prevents optimal recovery and functioning of your mitochondria.

Strive for 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Practice good sleep habits including going to bed at the same time every night, turning off devices at least 30 minutes before sleep, avoiding eating or exercising too close to bedtime and reading to wind down. 

Stop Smoking

Active and passive cigarette smoke, vaping, and other pollutants decrease mitochondrial functioning and decrease ATP production. 

As you increase the size, number and functioning of your mitochondria, you’ll notice you have more energy, you’ll be less fatigued and your overall health metrics will improve.

Yours in health & fitness,
Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan

Sherri McMillan, holds a master's degree in exercise physiology and has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 33 years. She has received numerous industry awards including 2010 CanFitPro International Presenter of the Year, 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year and 2005/2006 ACE Fitness Educator of the Year - Runner up. She is a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss" and "Fit over Forty" and the featured presenter in various fitness DVDs. She has presented hundreds of workshops to thousands of fitness leaders throughout Canada, Australia, Mexico, Jamaica, New Zealand, Germany, England, Spain, South America, Asia and the U.S. She is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver, the founder of WHY Racing Events & WHY Community, participates in various community fundraisers and can be found running, biking, or hiking around the community. Find more information at nwpersonaltraining.com.

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