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Phuket Health: Don’t just cast away cardio

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PHUKET: Cardio has been getting a bad rap in the fitness industry lately, and with all the strength and conditioning gyms popping up on the island – Unit 27, Titan, TFW and more – there have been less and less joggers frequenting the path around Nai Harn Lake.

The rumors about cardio came about when members of the fitness community put a spotlight on the negative hormonal effects that different types of exercise have on the body.

Cardiovascular exercises raise our heart rate, pumping more blood through the body, and use more fuel – also known as calories.

Engaging in cardiovascular exercises, like running, for more than 45 minutes can produce cortisol, the stress hormone, which tells the body to break down muscle. So, long runs can end up being counterproductive.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) is another form of cardio. This type prompts your body to produce more anabolic hormones, the ones that tell your body to build muscle and burn fat. HIIT involves short bursts of high energy with short breaks. I wouldn’t suggest doing more than 30 minutes unless you are pretty fit – even if you are in top shape, I would cap it off at 45 minutes.

Despite the bad press, there are a lot of benefits of cardio, which is why it should still be included in your training regime.

When more blood is pumped more vigorously through the body, you improve the rate at which waste products are removed, which reduces inflammation. Many studies have attributed a decreased risk of heart disease to performing cardiovascular exercise because of this process.

Low to medium intensity cardio exercise can aid recovery rates after more intense training sessions by helping rid the body of lactic acid, a byproduct of rigorous exercise.

These aerobic types of exercises also have a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels (which seem to be influenced by inflammation), triglyceride levels and immune system functions. In short, cardio exercise provides well-rounded health benefits.

Cardiovascular exercise also causes the brain to release those natural painkillers and stress reducers we all love, called endorphins. Like I’ve said before: the less stress, the better.

Although I support cardio exercise for its many health benefits, any time it takes a bite out of the effectiveness of resistance training – my main focus for many people – I can no longer justify it in these workout routines.

I fully support cardio as a way to support resistance training, but before integrating it into a resistance training program, I ask myself: will the workouts suffer because of the cardio? Will the person be weaker the next session? Will doing cardio cut into resistance training time?

The standard government recommendation for the amount of cardio we should do is three times per week for 30 minutes, minimum. For a lot of people, this is a great place to start.

I do agree with the government’s minimum, but what should be the maximum? If you are making great strength-training gains and are also able to do 45 minutes of cardio, three times per week, I see no need to cut back.

You must be able to find a balance, but finding this balance will involve some degree of trial and error.

Before you decide to go along with the hype and condemn cardio, listen to your body and notice how it feels with your current workout routine. Don’t just ditch it – cardiovascular exercise has a lot to offer.

Krix Luther is a fully qualified personal trainer with nearly a decade of experience specializing in strength and conditioning. For more information about Krix and his services, visit thevitruvianmethod.com

— Krix Luther

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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