The start of summer typically signals the start of a new workout plan. While it is tempting to throw yourself headfirst into an intense, all-out sweat session to undo the sluggishness of winter, you may want to think twice about your level of exertion. The “no pain, no gain” slogan may actually bring more harm than good.
A study by the University of British Columbia found that high-intensity, high-impact exercises could actually cause damage to the non-athlete performing them. The participants of the study performed a popular “sprint” exercise that at one time was traditionally used in sports training but has recently been adopted at gyms across the country. Note that “sprint” exercise refers to the performance of a high-intensity exercise that results in the body’s failure, taking a brief rest, performing the exercise again, and then repeating the cycle for a considerable amount of time.
After the intense sprint sessions, the study revealed that the cells of the participants’ bodies could only consume half of the oxygen needed to fight off damage from free radicals. Without a defense against free radicals, your body becomes more susceptible to organ damage, premature aging, and even cancer.
If your body is not used to super difficult workouts, you need to gradually introduce your system to exercise. The sprint exercises used in the study are very similar to high-intensity workouts like cycling or cross fit. Beginners to any difficult exercise need to start slowly and gradually add intensity. Over time, the body protects itself against free radicals by stockpiling antioxidant enzymes.
A safe strategy is to begin with low-impact exercises, like the elliptical machine or controlled bodyweight exercises to build stamina and experiment with your heart rate. Of course, raising your heart rate is a good thing (one of the main purposes of exercise), but reaching failure through “sprint” exercises is not. These modes of intense, failure-inducing exercises are best left to experienced athletes.
As an intro to cardio, warm up for three to five minutes at a low resistance walking speed, then amp things up for one minute at a time, alternating between higher speeds and inclines and a more easygoing pace. When you’re first starting, increase your speed for just 30 seconds to one minute at a time, and then walk for a minute. Keep going for 20-30 minutes. As you get more comfortable, increase the length of your high-intensity intervals, and start minimizing rest.
Resistance-wise, start with some bodyweight exercises. Push-ups, sit-ups, and balance exercises are a great place to start. Combine a couple exercises in a few minutes of sets, and then take a one-minute rest. Repeat cycles of exercises for 10 minutes at first, and then work your way up to longer workouts.
For complete workout plans and exercise demonstrations, schedule an appointment with me at Lifestyle Chiropractic. I can help you make sure you’re working with your body, not against it, in order to reach your fitness goals!
Adopting a healthy lifestyle emphasizes the balance of habits that are not only good for your daily function, appearance, and performance, but that simultaneously prevent disease by fortifying your cells, not exhausting them.
Best of health,
Dr. Chad M. Hoffman