Fitability

Deb Bailey AFPA, MAT, CanFitPro, YMCA

Meditation and Fitness

Meditation is often thought of as an activity best suited to people involved in yoga, tai chi and other forms of thoughtful movement - not as a benefit for an athlete or workout enthusiast. But studies have shown time and again that there are several benefits to the wider community. They include:

Better Heart Health. Meditation can dramatically lower your risk of heart attack or stroke.

More Efficient Immune System. Meditation can improve the electrical activity in your brain and this may have a supportive effect on your immune system.

Improved Sleep Pattern. Taking time to relax thoroughly during the day can help you get a better night's sleep.

Improved Blood Pressure. Meditation can help lower blood pressure to a safer level.

Better Results in Your Workout. When we visualize ourselves doing our sport or workout with great form and "see" ourselves succeeding, we tend to get better results from our actual workouts.

It's a Great Stress Buster. When we practise mindfulness, focus on breathing and empty our minds of stressors and irritations, we wake up our parasympathetic nervous system. This system helps us to become calm, relaxed and focussed, allowing us to deal better with stress as it comes along.

It seems as if everyone I meet has been the victim of some nasty virus this winter. Colds, the flu, sinus infections - you name it, someone's had it.

 

But when you feel a bit better, you like to get back to your exercise routines right away - after all, you've wasted enough time lying in bed, right? But how much should you do? Should you push yourself to your pre-sick activity level, or take it really easy for a couple of weeks?

 

First, determine if you are still a bit sick. There's that grey area when you definitely feel a lot better that you did, but you tire easily, you're still hacking and coughing, still running a bit of a fever. This is not the time start working out again. Sure, go for a walk, do stretches, even a bit of core work, but don't drive yourself to grey-faced exhaustion and into a relapse! Your immune system is already busy healing you - don't task it with intense workouts. Take it easy until you are really totally healthy.

 

At that point, you will have lost some of your exercise capacity - up to 30% or so. The strategy here is to start at about 2/3 of your exercise intensity and volume. In other words, work out regularly, but dial it down. The most important thing to do is listen to your body, not your buddy!  S/he might want to score a new personal best this week, but your job is to stop when you have reached your limit.

 

Gradually increase your intensity and volume of exercise, monitoring your body's message to you, keep up good nutrition and hydration, and get 8 hours of good sleep each night. That's the best prescription for regaining your fitness after an illness.

Cardio Training – What Kind Should I Do?

 

This is a common concern, especially for those people who have been working out for a while, but aren’t seeing good enough results. The issue is really getting variety in your workouts, to constantly challenge your body to working harder. Fitness professionals often refer to the FITT factors; this means the Frequency, Intensity, Time and Type of exercise performed.

 

In terms of cardiovascular work, there are several types of training you can do. First, we have Tempo Training. This means doing continuous aerobic exercise at a moderately challenging intensity, or 14-17 RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). Do this type of training for 30-60 minutes.

 

Second is Long Slow Distance Training. Again, this is continuous aerobic exercise at a low to moderate intensity (11-13 RPE), for 60-80 minutes. Think about a moderately challenging bike ride around the city, or a beginner spin class. This type of training stimulates an increase in the size of our mitrochondria. Those are the centres of our cells that act like “fireplaces” to burn fat and carbs. So this cardio type will increase the size of the “fireplaces”, allowing you to burn more of both those energy sources

 

Interval Training has you doing 3-minute stints of low-level cardio (RPE of 10-11, or easy), with 3-minute stints of high intensity cardio (RPE of 16-18, or very challenging). Do these intervals for 30-60 minutes.

 

And finally, there’s Supramaximal Interval Training. This is an extremely challenging cardio model. Each cycle consist of doing cardio for 1 minute at your fastest and most intense rate possible, followed by 2-5 minutes of active rest. That means doing an easy walk or gentle cycling to stay active, but at a much lower intensity. Here’s the challenge: work your way up to 15-20 cycles per session of Supramaximal Training. The great thing about this type of training is that it increases the “afterburn”, or how long your body continues to burn fuel at a higher rate than usual, for the longest time of any of these types of cardio.

 

So how can you put this all together for a very effective variety of cardio workouts? If you are doing cardio four times a week, this chart suggests a schedule that will give you variety and results from your workouts. This shows you a cycle over a period of 4 weeks, which you can repeat when you’re done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AEROBIC

FITNESS STRATEGY

           

 

LSD (Long Slow Distance)

60-80 minutes: continuous aerobic exercise at moderate intensity

 

Continuous Interval Training

30-60 minutes: alternate 3 minutes bouts of low and high intensity

 

Tempo Training:

30-60 minutes continuous aerobic exercise at high intensity

 

Supramaximal Training:  15-20 supramaximal exercise bouts for 1 min., with 2-5 min. active rest between bouts (walking to next cardio station or going much more slowly on the same cardio exercise). Supramaximal = your top speed

 

 

WEEK 1

WEEK 2

WEEK 3

WEEK 4

WARM-UP

Stationary bike, treadmill, elliptical, low-moderate pace

 

7-10 min.

 

7-10 min.

 

7-10 min.

 

7-10 min.

AEROBIC ACTIVITY

 

Session 1:

LSD (Long Slow Distance)

Session 1:

Continuous Interval Training

Session 1

Tempo Training

Session 1:

Supramaximal

Training

 

 

Session 2:

Tempo Training

Session 2:

LSD (Long Slow Distance

Session 2: Supramaximal

Training

Session 2: Continuous

Interval training

 

 

 

Session 3: Continuous

Interval training

Session 3:

Supramaximal

Training

 

Session 3:

LSD (Long Slow Distance)

Session 3:

Tempo Training

 

 

Session 4: Supramaximal

Training

Session 4:

Tempo Training

Session 4:

Continuous

Interval Training

Session 4:

LSD (Long Slow Distance

CHALLENGE

Get to at least 200 minutes total cardio  per week

Get to at least 200 minutes total cardio per week

Get to at least 200 minutes total cardio per week

Get to at least 200 minutes total cardio per week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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