Cardiovascular Training (aka “cardio” or “endurance training) refers to positively stressing the heart muscle by elevating our heart rate through prolonged, repetitive activity. This form of activity yields a long list of benefits ranging from improved blood flow throughout the body, lowered cholesterol, decreased chances of certain cancers (breast, colon), increased lung capacity, and weight loss. Most professional organizations recommend performing this activity for at least 3 or more days out of the week for at least 20-30 minutes of a moderate intensity in order to receive the best benefits.
Understanding that cardio does not have to come in the form of treadmill running or cycling is a key element. Recreational sports, golfing, walking, and even long-term yard work can all yield similar benefits if performed for a longer period of time. Many people have heard of the aforementioned pros of cardio but forget about the psychological effects. Especially for those whom wish to lose weight but are struggling to stay motivated and start a weight-loss program, it is important to note that cardiovascular training can improve a person’s general well-being, mood, anxiety levels, and self-concept.
A few research studies have been done over recent years which provide evidence of the psychological benefits of CV training. A 15-week study was performed on 35 overweight or mildly obese women to test the effects of brisk walking for 45 minutes, 5 days/week on certain psychological aspects. The results of this study showed a significant improvement in general well-being, energy levels, and lowered anxiety in the group that performed cardiovascular training versus the group that performed no exercise at all (Cramer, et al).
Another study that was conducted in recent years involving the effects of physical activity on weight loss and mental health received results which pointed to physical activity being the reason for mental health improvements and elevations in mood, not specifically cardiovascular fitness. Not only did these subjects lose a significant percentage of body fat due to various forms of physical activity, but their mental health improved as well (Thirlaway, et al).
Therefore, the take home message would be that it may not necessarily matter how fit someone is in order to lose weight and improve their mental state of being. Regardless of the success you are having with your weight-loss regimen, performing cardio or any form of physical activity has been linked to an improved state of mind. With a healthier mental state/mood, we as humans are more likely to continue to be active, and the more activity we perform the better chances of shedding pounds.
By Anthony Locast
Cramer, Sylvia R., David C. Nieman, and Jerry W. Lee. “The effects of moderate exercise training on psychological well-being and mood state in women.” Journal of Psychosomatic Research 35.4 (1991): 437-449.
Thirlaway, Kathryn, and David Benton. “Participation in physical activity and cardiovascular fitness have different effects on mental health and mood.” Journal of psychosomatic research 36.7 (1992): 657-665.
A nice, sunny day might give you a little more motivation to do your workout outside. However, for some people being outside in the sun can be exhausting and you’ll find yourself drained by the end of the day. This can be a bad combination especially without taking proper hydration precautions. More often than not, people are suffering from some degree of dehydration yet think their daily water intake is more than adequate. Hydration is not something that comes from same day water intake; hydration is a consistency of proper fluid intake from days prior.
Simply, warmer weather and higher humidity can cause your body to sweat more. The more you sweat the more fluids your body is losing which can cause dehydration if you are not replacing them. If you’re already dehydrated before heading outside, then you may find yourself lethargic and losing energy more quickly. This can easily be prevented and should be taken quite seriously. The general guideline is that you should be drinking 8 8-ounce glasses of water each day. However, this may not be enough for some people; aim for half your body weight in ounces or .5oz-.75oz of water per pound of body weight. For example, if you weigh 150lbs you should be consuming 75oz of water per day.
Especially when you’re exercising outdoors, it is important to be properly hydrated before heading out the door. Regularly consuming the proper amount of water will help you feel better, more energized, and have successful outdoor workouts!
By Tyler Palmquist
Resistance training is a major component for progression in athletic performance. Although the best way to improve performance would be to practice the skills specific to that sport, resistance training allows athletes to target certain muscles/muscles groups. Strength training off the playing field will help them become stronger for their sport.
Off-season resistance training is a great way to get ahead of the competition without interfering with in-season practice schedules. In addition, due to its length, the off-season allows for longer periods of training for progressing specific resistance exercises. A traditional offseason resistance training program for the majority of athletes should be split in to 3 phases; Hypertrophy, Strength, and Power.
Hypertrophy means muscle growth (increases in size of muscle fibers). Increased muscle size translates to muscles that are more efficiently capable of becoming stronger muscles. This type of training is characterized by high volume workouts; high sets and repetitions, low to moderate weights, and smaller rest times.
Strength is the ability to move the most possible weight. Utilizing the increased muscle size from the hypertrophy phase, athletes should be safely attempting heavy lifts in order to increase overall strength. The strength phase is characterized by lower repetitions, increased weights and rest times.
Power is defined as ones ability to perform an exercise over a specific unit of time. Power exercises are characterized as explosive, sport-specific movements that involve strength and speed (Olympic lifts, box jumps, sled push/pulls etc.) Utilizing strength gains from the previous phase, athletes should be able to move heavier weights more quickly and explosively. Workouts should be sport specific and focus on the speed and efficiency of heavy lifting. The power phase is characterized by lower repetitions, moderate to heavy weights, and moderate rest times.
Following the final phase of the off-season, athletes should decrease their time in the weight room in order to recover and make time for pre-season practice in their respective sports. A well planned training program can keep an athlete in shape during the long off-season and give them the boost they need to be a step ahead of the competition!
By David McCalla
March Madness is here and spring is right around the corner! Baseball has started Spring Training and the weather is starting to get nicer as the days get longer. For all of the avid basketball fans and recreational players, it’s exciting to watch the college basketball season come to a close. Many of us don’t do as much physical activities in the winter as we do when the weather starts to get warmer. We all can reminisce on the “good old days” when we were able to just go for a run or play a sport without warming up. However, the more time you’ve spent away from an activity should mean more time that you spend on a quality warm up and cool down. This is important to help prevent injuries and ensure you’re feeling great for the next days.
Taking 5-10 minutes to go through some light stretching and dynamic movements is important for your well-being. Here’s an example of a simple warm up you can do before most physical activities:
1) Light Jogging ~3-5 minutes
2) Walking Quad stretch (kick your heels up to your butt while stepping forward)
3) Frankenstein’s (lightly kicking leg straight in front while walking forward)
4) Lunge with Reach (step forward with one leg then bend both knees to 90 degrees and lift arms to the sky)
5) Side Lunges (with toes facing forward, step sideways bending one leg while keeping the other straight then step to the other side)
There are many different warm ups and ways to make it more for your activity. Your Exercise Physiologist can develop a specific program for you. Remember the goal of a warm up is to get your body ready for the activities it will soon be doing. Increasing your heart rate and increasing blood flow to skeletal muscles will decrease your chance for injuries during sports. Most importantly, have fun out there and be safe!