It is a balmy -9 degrees outside while I write this newsletter. If you have hurt yourself falling on ice or snow shoveling you are in very good company. Most of the patients I have seen since the middle of December have done one or both of these things. With a new layer of snow over an already icy road, I’m predicting that trend is not going to stop anytime soon. Be careful out there but if you hurt yourself, call us and we’ll get you in.
Resolution or Disillusioned
I have been working out in gyms and health clubs for more decades than I’d like to admit. Every January there is a massive influx of new people who are determined to get in shape for the new year. By the beginning of February, most of those new faces are gone and it is the same old group that is there throughout the year; the die-hards that show up on a consistent basis. Admittedly, some in that group are exercise addicts but most have learned over time that if you don’t use it you lose it. Consistent exercise makes us feel stronger and younger and more energetic. We have found our exercise niche and we just show up, which is a major part of success in any field. I don’t think the high attrition rate each February of the newly resolved health enthusiast is due to laziness. I think that we as a society have a lot of bad habits and information in regards to exercise.
Whenever a patient asks me what type of exercise they should be doing, my question to them is “what do you like to do?” Most will give me the long list of what they hate but the key is finding things you like to do or what you hate the least. Variety is the spice of life and exercise is no different. That is why I like working out in clubs that have a variety of classes, machines and games to be tried.
Most beginners start off working out too long and/or too hard which leads to extreme soreness and eventually injuries. Maybe when you were 16 you could run 5 miles without a warm-up but it isn’t going to happen at 40 without an injury. I know, you could bench press 250 pounds in college but that was 10 years ago and muscles atrophy if not used. I think the enthusiasm of the New Year is extinguished many times by the agony of sore joints and muscles by January 31. What is the hurry? You been out of shape for months or years, it isn’t going to change overnight. Start slow and let your body adjust. Exercise and being healthy are a lifestyle not an end goal. You are not a competitive or professional athlete who has a season to train for. Your season is a lifetime long.
The concept of cycles permeates every part of life but few use it in their exercise program. The concept of doing a little more each time we workout leads to burnout and injury. You need to have hard days and easy days, hard weeks and easy weeks hard months and easy months. Even professional athletes have an off-season to let their bodies heal. You can also cycle your effort inside of the workout for maximum efficiency. It doesn’t take 30-60 minutes to get a good workout or to burn fat.
I’ve discussed the concept of interval training in the past and have mentioned the book, Smart Exercise, by Covert Bailey. I was part of a physiology experiment during my college days at Indiana University that used interval training to increase the fitness level of the Judo team I was on. The results in a few short weeks were incredible. That was 30 years ago and the training concepts are still not mainstream concepts in the fitness world. Recently, Dr. Al Sears developed his PACE® program which is a form of interval training. PACE stands for Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion. His contention is that hours of aerobic training at medium intensity actually shrinks your heart and lung capacity and makes you fatter. Instead of training longer you increase your intensity level and that increases your fitness level.
We have all heard about aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Aerobic is supposed to burn fat for energy and anaerobic burns sugar stored in the muscles. The commonly accepted wisdom is that to burn fat you need to exercise at a level where you can still carry on a conversation while exercising. This is aerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise has you huffing and puffing to make up for the oxygen deficit. It is true that moderate intensity exercise (aerobic) burns fat as a fuel during the exercise but so does just resting. At rest we burn 60% fat, 35% carbs and 5% protein. Moderate exercise burns 55% fat, 40% carbs and 5% protein. Intense exercise burns 3% fat, 2% protein and 95% carbs in the form of sugar stored in the muscles. But it is the fat that is burned after you stop exercising that makes you lean. Here is an excerpt from Dr. Sears’ web site: (www.alsearsmd.com)
Health Alert 28
Long duration exercise is a waste of your time.
In today's message, you will learn a more effective way to burn fat and keep it off that takes just a few minutes per day. The system is simple. But if you follow it, you will simultaneously transform your physique, increase your available energy and increase the capacity of your heart and lungs.
When you exercise for more than about 15 minutes, you utilize mainly fat for energy – a good thing right. Wrong! This will induce your body to build more fat. It is preparing for the next exercise session when it will need fat to fuel the long duration.
Researchers at Laval University in Quebec wanted to find out which type of exercise program was best for fat loss. Participants were split into two groups. A long duration group cycled uninterrupted for 45 minutes. An interval group cycled in numerous short bouts (lasting from 15 to 90 seconds), resting in between.
The long endurance group burned twice as many calories as the interval group. But for every calorie burned, the interval group lost 9 times more fat.
"Burn fat during recovery"
The reason for this phenomenon was uncovered in another recent study. Colorado State University researchers measured how long fat continues to be burned after brief periods of exercise. Participants exercised for two minutes then rested for one minute. They continued this cycle for 20 minutes.
The researchers found that participants continued to burn fat at a high rate 16 hours after the exercise. Even while they rested their fat oxidation was up by 62%.
Another study done at Stanford University School of Medicine tried to find out how long people needed to exercise to get this benefit. The study demonstrated that ten intense minutes of exercise is enough to burn body fat.
End of Boring Exercise
I think if people knew they could do their workout in 10-20 minutes instead of 1-2 hours there wouldn’t be so many dropouts by February. You can do that with interval training and burn fat for 16 hours after you stop exercising! You must have a heart rate monitor to really do it right but that $50 investment will save you hundreds of hours of time in the gym. You can do your cardio exercise in as little as 10 minutes and your weights in 10 minutes and be done for the day. Let’s see how to do that:
Cardio: On a stationary bike, stair stepper, elliptical machine or whatever you like to exercise on, warm up for 1-3 minutes at a moderate pace that will elevate your heart rate (HR) to about 70% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). To determine your maximum heart rate take 220 minus your age. Mine is 220-52=168. This is not an exact number since I can easily get my HR over 170 and sometimes to 180 but it is a good figure to work with. During my warm up I try to get my HR up to around 115-120 which is about 70% of my MHR. (168 X .7 = 117). In the next phase, I increase my exertion by increasing the speed of my motion, increase the resistance on the machine or both. I try to work at 80% of my heart rate for about 1 minute and then slow down for two minutes and let my HR drop back down. The last phase, I increase both my speed and resistance and sprint for 10 seconds and rest for 20 seconds for 4 sets or 2 minutes with my HR in the 90-95% range (153-162). That leaves me 2 minutes to cool down and get my HR back down all in only 10 minutes. Oh, I need to warn you that sweating is inevitable!
The better shape you get in the faster your HR will drop back to 70% of MHR or lower. Increase the sprint sets and you will get your heart in the best shape possible. I can now warm up for 1 minute and then do 20 second sprints with a 10 second rest for 10 sets. I slow way down for about 2 minutes and let my HR drops back to about 120 and then I repeat the 10 sets. It takes some time to work up to that intensity level so don’t try that as your first workout. You can also work up to 20 minutes of total interval training but you don’t need to really exceed that time to be in great shape. Since I do weights after the routine above, I don’t do much cool down on the machine. Next month I’ll talk about training with weights.
Remember the legal disclaimer is to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program and always start slow! Stop if you feel dizzy or chest pains. The program outlined above is safe if you start slow and work yourself up in intensity.
Some of you have met Dr.’s Thom and Cari Brown either on Fridays or when I was in Italy. They will be using my office space when I’m not working to try and build their own practice. You will see their new name “Advanced Chiropractic Health Center” on the door soon. This allows the office to have at least one doctor around most of the time to handle whatever emergencies come up. Tirza and the Thermogram Center are also still here on selected weekends for thermogram testing and the DRX treatments are scheduled Monday-Friday from 9-5. We are here to help you when you need us!