Archive for the Cardio exercise Category

How far did I just run?

Posted in Cardio exercise with tags , on January 29, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I came across a great web site that makes it easy to calculate the distance of unusual routes, such as one you might take on your bike or when running. [Not that any one’s running outside in my neck of the woods tonight with -16 F low for tonight and -35 F wind chill.]

Take a look at MapMyRun.com. Once you orient yourself to the buttons, it’s relatively simple to caluculate a distance. No more need to hop in the car and drive the route while following your vehicle’s odometer.

In the groove

Posted in Cardio exercise, Transformation on January 15, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I’m back on track with my workout regimen and loving it.  I’ve been on the elliptical 6 of the last 7 days, 8 of the last 10, and am basically craving it.  Sure, most mornings, I feel it would be easier to lie in bed longer and get another hour of sleep, but I feel so much better after pushing myself on the elliptical.  As with almost anything, it’s hard to get started on a lifestyle change.  Then, inertia takes over and it is suddenly a whole lot easier.  If you haven’t reached that yet, keep at it – you eventually will. 

High Intensity Interval Training

Posted in Cardio exercise on January 10, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I prefer to do HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) for my “cardio” exercise.  [“Cardio” is a poor choice of terms because it implies that weight lifting doesn’t work the heart, but that’s another story for another day.]  HIIT has been studied and shown to be a more efficient style of “cardio” exercise than Low Intensity Steady State (LISS).  Obviously there are many different “cardio” styles, some of which may be more efficient than LISS, but the benefit of HIIT resides in its short time requirement and long-lasting effects on metabolism. 

 Researchers (see citation at bottom of post) enrolled 17 subjects in a 20-week program.  The subjects were first assigned to a 5-week conditioning phase on a recumbent cycle, after which one group was assigned to do sprints on the cycle (HIIT) while the other group continued with a more traditional low-intensity endurance regimen.  The HIIT group exercised for 30 minutes at a time, while the endurance group started at 30 minutes and increased to 45 minutes. 

Despite not utilizing as much energy during the actual workouts, the HIIT group lost significantly more body fat (3 times as much) as measured by skinfold measurements.  Thus, HIIT gives you more “bang for your buck” – shorter workouts, but more fat loss.  This finding suggests that HIIT rev’s up one’s metabolism for longer periods than a typical endurance workout. 

My HIIT regimen is on the elliptical and can certainly be carried over to any exercise, e.g. walking, running, stair-climbing, treadmill, bicycling.  Here’s a brief overview of my strategy:

3-4 minutes warmup 50% effort

[1 minute 90% effort]

[1 minute 50% effort]

{Repeat above 2}

2 minutes cooldown 40-50% effort

 It’s a tough workout.  You certainly need to build up a certain level of fitness before you can make it through a 20 minute HIIT workout, but it is definitely worthwhile.  I recommend some good motivational music to help keep you “pumped” through the workout.

I especially like being able to fit in a shorter workout into my crazy day without feeling guilty about not doing a 45-60 minute endurance workout.  I will still incorporate those workouts once in a while as well to keep my body guessing, but most days I can’t wake up early enough to spend an hour on the elliptical. 

 See this Wikipedia article on HIIT for more information and some other references if you are interested in reading more about it.

Trembblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. (1994). Impact of Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metablism, Metabolism. 43(7): 814-818.

Easy workout for Northerner’s

Posted in Cardio exercise on December 26, 2007 by Dr. CJ

Living in Minnesota has its perks once in a while – it all depends on how you look at it. I came home from Christmas at my wife’s family’s house this morning to a driveway full of snow (about 4 inches). Some may consider that a big burden (enough to invest in a snowblower!), but to me that looks like a great workout. Think about it: fresh air, no gasoline, one-time investment in a shovel (unless you break one like I did today), no sweaty machines to wipe off.  I confess, I actually do own a snowblower – a hand-me-down in barely workable condition.  It’s only been used three times in the past 2 years – in situations where I was pressed for time.  But I’ll tell you, it sure feels a lot better to clear that driveway by my own power.

Pedometer use associated with weight loss

Posted in Cardio exercise on November 27, 2007 by Dr. CJ

A recent JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) article demonstrated improvements in physical activity, BMI, and blood pressure in groups of people fitted with pedometers. It was a meta-analysis (summary of multiple similar studies) of results over an average of 18 weeks. I read the actual print article (always better than just the abstract). It seems like an obvious conclusion; really no groundbreaking science here, but there are a few take-home points for me.

It certainly confirms that my 1st “Tenet of Effective Weight Loss” is alive and working in real-life, that being the importance of keeping a record. Human nature is such that if you give someone a pedometer he/she will challenge him/herself to actually use it and to aim for improvement.

Primarily, I like the fact that this study demonstrates that such a simple intervention regarding physical activity can result in measurable changes in one’s health, in a relatively short period of time.

The 10,000 Steps program has evolved recently as a motivator to incorporate more physical activity into our daily routines. It doesn’t take much to make a difference, especially if you are relatively inactive.