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Aerobic Exercise and Heart Health

Aerobic Exercise and Heart Health
By Blake Hagen

The evidence suggesting regular aerobic exercise can reduce the development of some types of cancer is solid. Perhaps even stronger is the evidence suggesting regular aerobic exercise can have profound impacts on cardiovascular health. With regular aerobic exercise, the heart's efficiency increases, producing many beneficial effects for the body. Improved heart efficiency can also lead to a reduced risk of developing heart disease.

Improved Heart Efficiency

Heart efficiency and cardiovascular fitness can be determined by several different methods. One method is to measure an individual's resting heart rate. A lower resting heart rate after a period of aerobic exercise training indicates improved heart efficiency. The stroke volume (amount of blood ejected by the heart each beat) is increased and this essentially means the heart muscle does not have to pump as many times to get sufficient blood to the body. With aerobic exercise training, the heart muscle is strengthened and it does not have to work as hard as it did before the aerobic exercise training.

For example, at rest, an untrained individual may have a heart rate of 70 beats per minute (bpm) and a stroke volume of 71 ml/beat. This is equal to a cardiac output of approximately 5000 ml/minute. On the other hand, an aerobically trained individual with the same cardiac output will have a resting heart rate of 50 bpm and a stroke volume of 100 ml/beat.[1] The trained individual is able to get enough blood to his body with fewer beats than the untrained individual. This demonstrates just one adaptation the body goes through with regular aerobic exercise training.

Other adaptations that accompany regular aerobic exercise training include an increased total blood volume, increased blood flow to active muscle, and an increase in mitochondrial size and density. This increase in mitochondrial density is important for the use of fat as fuel during sub-maximal aerobic exercise. When a fat molecule is to be broken down to be used as fuel, it is broken down into a fatty acid and a glycerol molecule. The fatty acid is transported by the blood to the mitochondria where it is processed to be used as fuel. With an increase in the number of mitochondria in the muscle cells, the body can process and use more fatty acids as fuel. This conserves the potential energy stored as carbohydrate for other uses.[2] In other words, the body can use fat more efficiently during aerobic exercise and save the more precious carbohydrate fuel.

Aerobic Exercise and Heart Disease

Regular aerobic exercise can also reduce an individual's lifetime risk of developing heart disease. A study done at Stanford University found that the best predictor of death is lack of fitness.[3] Another study done also found that "physical inactivity is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease."[4] How fit an individual is plays a major role in determining how long a lifespan that individual may have. This improvement in fitness can be achieved through regular aerobic exercise.

Another way that regular aerobic exercise can reduce the development of heart disease is through an increased number of capillaries in the body. When a person is aerobically trained, more capillaries develop to improve the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange between blood and cells. If an artery is damaged or if blood flow is blocked, the blood can easily be rerouted to where it needs to get to and deliver the necessary oxygen. This increased number of capillaries occurs not only in the heart, but also in the brain and all other parts of the body, thus also reducing the risk of stroke.[5]

Studies have also shown that regular aerobic exercise may be able to reverse the effects of heart disease already occurring in an individual. Of all the risk factors associated with heart disease, many of them are modifiable by regular exercise and weight control. Risk factors for heart disease which can be reduced or eliminated in an individual through regular aerobic exercise include hypertension, high levels of fat in blood, type 2 diabetes, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Through regular exercise, these conditions can improve, and as a result, heart disease can be prevented and in some cases reversed.[6]

[1] William D. McArdle, Frank I. Katch and Victor L. Katch, Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance, 6th ed (Baltimore: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2007): 354.

[2] Ibid., 478-80.

[3] Steven G. Aldana, The Culprit and the Cure: Why Lifestyle is the Culprit Behind America's Poor Health and How Transforming That Lifestyle Can be the Cure (Mapleton, UT: Maple Mountain Press, 2005), 142.

[4] James B. Carter, Eric W. Banister and Andrew P. Blaber, "Effect of Endurance Exercise on Autonomic Control of Heart Rate," Sports Medicine 33 (2003): 42.

[5] Aldana, 143.

[6] Philip E. Allsen, Joyce M. Harrison and Barbara Vance, Fitness for Life: An Individualized Approach, 6th ed (Boston: WCB/McGraw Hill, 1997) 49.

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Intro to Bike Spinning Exercises

Intro to Bike Spinning Exercises
By Mike Edward

Before You Start

You will appropriate cycling attire, padded shorts, a good pair of cross trainers fitted with cleats for gripping the pedals, a towel and a water bottle. A typical spinning class has a spinning instructor, who is usually positioned in front of the class and directs the class through routines which simulate outdoor terrains, like hill climbs, intervals and sprints. Often, dance or rock music and even lights are used to encourage riders to work harder and discourage monotony. Expect a class to run from 45- 6- minutes, with the full cardio workout lasting from 30-35 minutes.

Proper form and Position

Proper form and position is important for a safe work-out and to be able to work out each part of the body according to your program. Bikes are adjustable so height will not be a problem. You will know that the bike is at the right height when your knees are slightly bent when the foot is touching the bottom of the pedal.

There are three seating positions in spinning. In the first position, called the centre, the rider sits on the saddle with hands resting lightly on the handle bars. The rider stands up in position two with the saddle between the legs with hands still lightly on the handle bars. Position three requires the body to extend over the handlebars, although the hands are still kept light for balance and parallel to the handlebars. Position three is the opposition used for the highest resistance more often seen in uphill climbs.

When standing, riders need to keep the back straight with the back of the legs touching the saddle. Hands should only be place lightly over the handlebars for balance and never for weight support.

The level of difficulty is affected by three things: resistance, cadence or speed, and position. Resistance can be varied and this is done by adjusting the flywheel attached to the pedals. Usually a knob is used to adjust the flywheel to the desired level of resistance, which can range from none at all to the most difficult. First-timers are often encouraged to choose a resistance level where they feel most comfortable.

The cadence is the speed at which the pedals turn. For more burned calories riders can use higher resistance levels and slower pedaling speeds.

Final Tips

Be comfortable. When spinning, do not lock your hips and keep your upper back and neck. Be on the lookout for painful sensations, especially around the upper back and neck and do not hesitate to step down when you feel faint or dizzy.

Here is where you should go for more tips about spinning:

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Walking Shoes Vs Running Shoes Vs Cross-Trainers

Walking Shoes Vs Running Shoes Vs Cross-Trainers
By Peter Boston

There was a time when the only buying choice for sneakers was white or black. Today's athletic shoes are the product of sophisticated science and engineering that have expanded consumer choices to precise details about athletic shoe cushioning, flexibility, orthopedic qualities, and the breathability of inner and outer materials. The distinctions between walking shoes, running shoes, and cross trainers from the same manufacturer may be small in some cases but they are real differences that will affect your walking experience, and not just a marketing gimmick.

Walking Shoes

Walking shoes have more flexible soles and are specially designed to promote the easy roll of the foot from heel to toe, your natural walking motion. Cushioning is designed to absorb about 1.5 times body weight for any shoe size. Walking shoes do not have to be as rugged so there is more opportunity for manufacturers to use mesh and other lighter, highly breathable materials on the shoe outers. Feet sweat and some walkers will really appreciate this feature. Tread designs are less deep and the soles and side walls provide all around grip. The best walking shoe is, in fact, a Walking Shoe, but you could certainly use the other types of athletic shoes in your walking program so long as the fit was right.

Running Shoes

Running shoes are designed to absorb impacts up to three times your body weight and provide sufficient lateral stability to control pronation. Heels are higher and more heavily cushioned. Treads and sides are designed for maximum forward grip. Trail running shoes have impregnated solid guards to prevent bruising from sharp rocks. Running shoes from the same manufacturer will not be as flexible at the ball of the foot as a purpose made walking shoe.


Cross-trainers attempt to provide a versatile compromise between walking and basketball, tennis or other court shoes. Generally, cross trainers have more rigid metatarsal (side-to-side) support than running shoes, and do not have adequate heel cushioning for long distance running, Cross-trainers work OK if running is limited to a few miles at a time but a cross-trainer shoe would likely break down faster than a purpose made running shoe.

Learn how to select the best walking shoe for your foot type.

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