In last weeks article we discussed the benefits and potential harm that can come from exercise. When we push our bodies too hard or for too long we inevitably feel a negative affect due to an overload of inflammation in our systems. Sometimes that’s difficult to pinpoint, after all we’ve been told time and again the benefits of exercise and that’s true! Exercise helps our body. mind, and spirit and allows for excess stress and energy to release in a productive manner. However, it is so important to remember that exercise does not have to be a form of punishment, but it should be looked at as a time to connect with what your body is capable of and get into a mindset of gratitude for what it can do.
As we brought up last week there certainly are days when a long, hard run or a SoulCycle class is what you crave and you should go for it! But when your body is craving or needs more gentle movements, listen! Yoga, a good stretch, or a walk is fine for those days. I don’t believe a rest day means laying in bed stagnant necessarily, but it could for you!
Along the lines of types of movements and their affects on the body we can all learn a little more about how to get even more benefits from them, especially from a standpoint of learning how to recover more efficiently. Let’s explore some of our favorites:
Spin class is intense and focused-more often than not I personally thrive on that, but it does cause a higher level of lactic acid buildup in the muscle. The lactic acid starts increasing at roughly 75-85 percent of your aerobic capacity, which means when you feel like you’re hitting you maximum performance level in class, that acid in your system is accumulating more. Which also means (Hurray!) muscles are firing and creating new fibers to build up strength. We’re also increasing our lung capacity at this aerobic level. When we come out of a class like this it is important to stretch and release some of that acid through gentle, long stretching. It is also key to think about nutrition as you recover. Since we cause our body to accrue more acid build-up we need to support it through more alkaline foods to calm down that inflammation (previous post on anti-inflammatory foods can clue you in on a few).
High Interval Training/Sprinting
Sprinting and other speed training is an anaerobic activity that utilizes the body’s short burst energy stores and the primary sources of that energy result in lactic acid as a by-product. Burst training certainly increases our aerobic health-read lung capacity and oxygen flow throughout, but it can cause a higher stress response in the body. Keeping this in mind if you do love this type of workout be sure to allow for recovery and proper fuel throughout. Jogging offers a lower intensity workout and doesn’t have quite as high of a lactic acid production rate. Remember if you can hold a conversation when running you are in still aerobically training and alkalizing your body by getting that blood and oxygen to flow steadily.
This is another short-term, high effort activity that requires our bodies to push out energy faster so that our muscles are well oxygenated. However, energy pulled from our muscles while we are working out at this intensity is coming from glucose. Glucose is then broken down by lactate-with a higher activity of lactate in the body as it works to supply us energy we experience higher acid levels in our muscles. When this happens your body is essentially getting energy by fermenting glucose-because it doesn’t have oxygen for energy-resulting in more lactic acid. Again it is key to support your body after and before this workout with more alkalizing minerals and foods so that it can recover more completely and you can keep doing the activities you love!
Exercise your mind and the body will follow. The practice of both these exercises helps us to develop a calmer sense within our bodies and ultimately leads to happier movement and tools to calm us during stressful times. The stress release that yoga and Tai Chi can offer through deep breathing, naturally detoxifies our bodies. They both improve our balance and flexibility, can improve our sleep, and improve immune function by calming our systems down so they can work more efficiently. Studies have shown that both practices overtime can lower our stress responses, alleviate muscle and joint pain, and improve our overall cardiovascular function. Which is why, especially on a day when you are feeling drained a yoga session or Tai Chi practice can be beneficial.
Walking/Swimming (Low impact cardio)
Low impact, aerobic movements work wonderfully to improve our lung function. Your body learns to use it’s oxygen stores more efficiently in order to help sustain your endurance during these types of movements. You are breathing in more fresh air and out more carbon dioxide-these natural act during these activities helps to alleviate your stress response. Tuning into your walk or swim (the nature or environment around you)has been proven to help relieve symptoms of chronic stress.
While some exercises cause our body stress when we understand the importance of recovery and proper fuel to support these activities we can enjoy the benefits more fully. Even more beneficially when we tune into what type of movement we are craving we get more out of those movements and are likely to experience better results because our bodies aren’t experiencing the stress and inflammation that is brought on by too much or too intense a schedule you force upon it. So tune in!