#cardioproject2017

Just for fun, this year, I decided to start a #cardioproject2017 because there are a lot of misconceptions about “cardio” within the fitness world, everyday life and cardiovascular health in general.

We are told to eat well, exercise, stop smoking, reduce our stress and maintain a healthy weight. That’s all you have to do! GREAT, then why are so many “healthy” people affected by cardiovascular disease?

In order to DO cardio, we are told to exercise X/wk for X amount of time. Is “exercise” the answer? If not, then what?

How does the cardiovascular system work in the first place?

If I feel good, then that must mean I’m fine with regards to my CV health, right?!

If I run (or do any sport/activity) then my cardio is fine!

What is the difference between performance (recreational to elite athletes) and health (overall cardio health)?

Without seeing a doctor what are things I can do to tell if my cardio is up to par? What can I do to help my cardio, period?

If I am at risk (genetics), what can I do? If I have a heart defect or abnormality at birth what can I do?

These are just a few questions I will touch upon throughout this year.

Let’s start off with RUNNING! I am sure almost everyone will agree that running has come up in their life, defined as an activity to increase cardio. Absolutely, sure it does. But, to what extent? Are there better ways to increase your cardio aside from pounding the kms/miles? And, if you LOVE running how can you make it a safer, healthier option of cardio work.

Last week I did a V02 and Lactate run test to have a starting point for my “fitness cardio”. Here’s snippets of the test.

Brian, Senior Sport Scientist/ Head Sport Performance Coach, testing my V02 and lactates at Peak Centre for Human Performance. Evan, Sport Scientist Intern, helping out and Kevin, rolling the camera! I used the Splice app through GoPro for this video.

I started slow and did not go to V02max. My body was not ready for the pounding (only ran ~10 times in the last 2 years) on my body or the speed. However, I did get enough information to continue on with my #cardioproject2017. Please click on the link below to see my results.

Kristin Marvin – Running VO2 – Jan 10th, 2017

My results: What the heck do they mean? I will go through that over the next little while in upcoming posts. I will say a few personal thoughts on my test.

As a former runner it is extremely tough and humbling to view my results. It was my life in high school (over 20 years ago) and I dabbled in it on and off over the years. Last time was in the summer of 2011, where I ran 2-3 times a week and did some triathlons.

I’m doing this for various reasons. To show running is not enough. And to make sure everyone understands that if they are a runner or an athlete in another sport does not equate to overall cardiovascular health.

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Five Tips for X-Country Runners

TIP #1: Do some fancy footwork EVERYDAY

Having strong and healthy feet relate to your ENTIRE body health. I am sure you don’t want to get injured this year?! Get those shoes off and work your feet for 5 minutes a day, it’ll save you a lot of heart ache later on!

 

TIP #2: Do whole body mobility/movement

Running only requires ~20% of your musculature. What’s happening to the rest of your body? There’s some SERIOUS underuse.

The cardiovascular system relies on ALL your muscles to pump the blood (nutrient rich => oxygen) to all the cells in your body. If you JUST run you’re in for a lot of hurt later on in life.

AND just because you’re an Olympic calibre runner does not prevent you from CVD. It’s all about making movement matter in your ENTIRE body not just the parts you need to run.

Ask yourself everyday: have I MOVED today? If you haven’t I would move first (yes, as a priority!) before you decide to run.

Move runner move!

 

TIP #3: Walk for recovery

With all new gadgets and experts talking about everything you can do… it really can be as simple as walking more for better recovery and better health. We were meant to move a LOT throughout the day. Not just once a day (aka during your workout). It’s all about making movement matter

 

 

TIP #4: Wear less

Our goose bump muscles (arrector pili) are just as important as any other muscle in the body. USE them!

Your body is set up for self thermoregulation. If you are constantly trying to be “comfortable” with your body temperature you are achieving the exact opposite with extra clothes and/or heat.

And that’s also why, especially during colder months, it’s important to constantly move throughout the day! We are suppose to anyway.

Whether you are training or not be a little bit uncomfortable to regain optimal health.

 

 

Tip #5: Plumb line your way up those hills while keeping your ribs down to engage your glutes and hamstrings instead of exasperating your hip flexor/ quad dominant lifestyle.

Give yourself a better grade exercising!

We all have our favourite exercise {or the exercise we feel we need to do in order to be healthy}… however, are you getting good grades with that exercise?! A lot of us humans live in cities with flat sidewalks, streets, paths, trails and only go to gyms, studios, boxes that are FLAT. All this flat movement skews our bodies.

It sucks when you feel flat all the time, right? That’s exactly what your cells think too! Except they decide to move to a different location or die based on your movements (or lack thereof) throughout the day. We insist our body to do A, B, C, D… all the way to Z for us when we ask it; yet, we have not carried out “F” movement on a daily basis in years! ALL joint ranges of motion are important, and today I will just highlight ankle and hip movement. Watch this video!

Hills, slopes, mountains, anything that has a gradient for your body to work differently is a plus! We need flats AND hills for overall body health! If you can’t find a slope during the week because you are too darn busy with work, then please find out on the weekends. Two days is better than no days.

Your body functions E.X.A.C.T.L.Y. how YOU moved it to function since conception. It’s all about Making Movement Matter everyday. Enjoy your body in as many movements as possible!

Float Away

Whether it’s physical feats through sport/activity, the grind at work, or pressure at home, it’s hard to turn OFF. Our frenetic identities of “living” today, are a multichotomy, to say the least.

What are you doing to wind down, relax, let go, take respite? What are you doing to recover from hard workouts, difficult weeks, and life stresses?

Some of you may or may not have found your gateway to ease (i.e. deep breathing, walk in nature, ocean swim, meditating, yoga, massage, stretching, etc.). Here’s something else you can try!

I recently went to “Life Spring Float Tank Centre” in Cockburn. Watch my video above to see the float pod and set up in a private room.

To be honest, I initially looked at floating as a ‘placebo’. Whatever it is that you like, want or feel the need to do-> THAT will help you! Back to floating… after reading many articles dispersed over the last 50 years I was schooled and intrigued.

Generally speaking here, from a few standpoints (there are more):

Physiology- ↓ heart rate, ↓ blood pressure

Neuropsychology- ↑ production of alpha & theta waves and ↓ production of beta & gamma waves

Pain- ↓ chronic pain

Recovery- ↑ musculoskeletal recovery

So what? Well, it has helped thousands of people with anxiety, PTSD, addictions (smoking, alcohol), fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, psychosomatic illnesses, and athletic recovery.

Most studies work with the R.E.S.T. {Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique/Therapy} principle/theory which ties in perfectly with reasons why people would want to try a Float in the first place. You have a private room, private pod, no sound, no vibration, essentially no stimulation. It’s just your naked self in the water.

Now, if you are an A.I.R. head that might be a challenge. A head that has the “Anxiety Induced Relaxation” attached to it, going to a million thoughts a minute upon ‘trying to relax’. You might want to pretend it’s a game and do exercises in the water to help you get in the mood of chilling. There is plenty of room in the pod to stretch, do yoga, squat, etc. You don’t HAVE to close your eyes and sleep the whole time. I, myself, did 30 minutes of stretching. It’s your 30 minutes (or 1 hour) of time. Do as you please!

We are all bombarded with hyper stimulation today, producing way too much cortisol, creating a cataclysmic effect on all the systems in our body. Everyone knows stress generates inflammation. Small amounts of inflammation that the body can flush out are fine… but heightened, prolonged tsunamis of inflammation will not go unnoticed. How the inflammation manifests itself is entirely individual. How are you switching off today? Why not try a float! It might be what you need.

Achilles straight leg hops

When I was running seriously [circa early ’90s] we did this one exercise “Achilles Straight Leg Hops” throughout the indoor track season. I actually enjoyed doing it; but, I couldn’t have told you why at the time.

There has been a lot of research, especially from the Mechano-Therapy world on loading of tissues. How movement REPAIR tissues and how we can prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.

Eccentric and concentric loading at joints effects our tissues in a positive way. In runners, the feet, calves, and achilles are discussed in nausea; and, as we all know numerous injuries stem from them!

If we load the achilles tendon we are helping the areas below [feet and plantar fascia], direct [achilles tendon] and above [calves]. You can absolutely do calf raises and drops on two feet or on one foot, which I am sure most of you have done before. OR, you can try this activity below.

Now, please do not do this if you have an injury. I am assuming you are healthy!

A few pointers:

1. STRAIGHT legs for the entire exercise except to start (mine are not exactly straight)

2. SPRING with the achilles. You are just plantar flexing and dorsiflexing the foot (nothing else is moving)

3. ARM swing for momentum

4. COORDINATION is needed because you are suppose to land in same spot every time (I didn’t)

5. BALANCE helps too 😉

As a side note, they have found achilles tendon injuries are not inflammatory, they are degenerative in nature, meaning a huge loss in collagen fibres. One of my favourite quotes is “Turn movement into repair” ~ Dr. Khan