Chapter Eleven~B--Part 2, El. Bkstrk.
The Home Pool


Types of Exercise and Effects

This "e-text" would not be complete without descriptions of what occurs in the body under the stress of various exercises.

While there are many different ways to obtain a good workout, there are basically three major categories of physical training, they are: Aerobic; Anaerobic; and Stretches. Many exercises are a combination of two or sometimes all three modalities, such as the High Jump which requires a participant to run (aerobic), then acquire a sudden burst of energy (anaerobic) and finally, a full body stretch (stretches).

AEROBIC exercise is commonly described as any activity requiring steady elevated breathing for a prolonged period. Running, swimming, bike riding, fast walking, and fast horseback riding are a few examples. The aim of aerobic exercise is to move as speedily as possible without having to rest. That is, to elevate the heart rate to an optimal point and keep it beating at that rate without allowing it to increase or slow down. Rate of speed is different for each body, depending upon age, strength, and condition. That's why it's important to first determine one's optimal heart rate.

There are many charts that offer suggestions for determining the correct heart rate for average individuals. Most are based on age and gender. Very few, if any, take into account a person's physical condition, experience, bone structure or weight. For this reason, charts are only guidelines and shouldn't be followed to the letter.

While teaching water aerobics I found that a good measuring device for my classes was to have individuals move at a pace where they breathed faster than normal but without gasping for breath. For those who were panting hard or had to rest frequently, the activity was too fast paced. Because we moved to a count, those unable to keep up were advised to continue exercising but slow down to every other count or even every third or fourth count rather than taking a rest. As long as they were moving and breathing at an elevated rate it was aerobic for them. Sudden bursts of energy between rests is no longer aerobic exercise and the good obtained from breathing deeply and fast over a prolonged period is lost. Vanity aside, when performing aerobics, it's dangerous to force yourself to move faster than what's comfortable for your body. When starting any new activity we all need to begin slowly and gradually work up to speed. There are many different abilities, experiences and body types in a large class so no one should compare themselves to others.

ANAEROBIC exercise is mostly performed for muscle building strength or to "beef up." It requires sudden bursts of energy for very short periods. Examples are heavy weight lifting; shot putt; javelin throw; 50 yard dash and disciplines like Karate or Judo. Field sports like the long jump, high jump and pole vault are also considered anaerobic though some contain elements of stretching and aerobics, especially in training for them. Light weight lifting can be aerobic if done with continuous lifts over a prolonged period while keeping a steady elevated heart rate. Those who have coronary problems or hypertension should avoid anaerobic exercises as they generally increase blood pressure and put added stress on the heart muscle.

STRETCHES are easy on the vascular system and for the most part good for joints. Stretching is used to ease muscles both before and after more strenuous exercises as they help prevent strains and sprains. Smart coaches are aware of the value of stretching and insist on players warming up before and easing down after workouts with several minutes of stretches. Probably the most familiar stretching discipline is Yoga, which is also a philosophy involving breathing exercises, diet, meditation and the attainment of personal peace.

How the Three Methods of Exercise Affect Muscle Growth and Energy Levels

AEROBIC exercise, when practiced consistently for several months or more, changes the color of muscle cells. This is because the cells are consuming more oxygen and therefore become a deeper red due to the extra hemoglobin required to maintain continuous energy levels.

Aerobic exercises induce the body to manufacture more of an energy producing chemical called ATP (adenosine triphosphate) through a complicated process involving the transfer of sugars and fats into energy. The following is a highly simplified description: aerobics elevate the heart rate which in turn increases the breathing rate. Faster breathing brings more oxygen into the lungs. Blood vessels pick up the extra oxygen which combines with sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, liver and other organs. This produces ATP which breaks down into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) in muscle cells where it immediately gives them quick energy. Meanwhile, a slower process takes place. Because of the extra oxygen, there's an effect on fat stored in the liver and elsewhere. Through a different chemical exchange, oxygen breaks down fat globules into fatty acids, glycogen and glucose molecules. When these molecules break down in muscle cells ADP is produced providing even more energy.

The oxygen, ATP/ADP energy cycle ostensibly would continue forever and runners (or swimmers, etc.) would never become tired, except for one thing--lactic acid buildup. Because our cells are similar to tiny batteries with an acid/alkaline interaction (sodium and phosphorus,) "corrosion" occurs after a while. The by-product of this interaction is lactic acid. With continuously high activity over a long period the body is unable to dispose of lactic acid wastes quickly enough to prevent the muscles from becoming tired.

The good news is that the more we work out the more efficient the body becomes in disposing of wastes. Muscle cells increase in size so more oxygen rich blood circulates faster than before, carrying away lactic acid to excretionary organs such as the kidneys where it's eventually eliminated.

Muscle Size: Muscles enlarged from aerobic exercise are generally more elongated due to stretching, and more wiry than muscles produced from lifting those heavy weights that give the prominent definition sought by body builders. To avoid bulky, masculine muscles, women who lift weights usually prefer doing numerous repetitions with light weights rather than single lifts with heavy ones. Most women have fewer muscle cells per muscle than most men, therefore, are unable to achieve the strength that's available to men. This is because muscle cells never increase numerically. When muscles "grow," it's due only to cell expansion, not from additional cells.

ANAEROBIC EXERCISE is not dependant upon deep, fast breathing over a long period. Individual muscle cells are generally lighter in color than those needing more red hemoglobin.

Any exercise requiring rests between quick bursts of energy is anaerobic. Often, participants of events requiring sprints, (one pool lap, 50 yard dash, etc.) hold their breath much of the distance in order to end with a burst of energy. Training for single event sports requires the type of practice that moves hard and fast, then resting to catch the breath. Because ADP cannot be stored in muscles, the energy is used up quickly and replenished during periods of rest. The better condition of the body the faster its energy is restored. Anaerobic athletes often do what is called "peaking" or coming to a peak. They work out hard every day for several weeks, then a day or two before their meet or event they completely rest. This gives them an abundance of stored energy elsewhere in their body while muscles are rested. The object is to obtain maximum energy before it declines from lack of exercise. This practice puts most athletes at their best.

STRETCHES can be passive or dynamic. For example, a passive stretch would be like hanging from a bar or doing the splits (or any other stretch) after flexibility is achieved (one would hope.) That is, holding a stretch with ease or little effort. Dynamic stretches are practiced in an attempt to increase suppleness rather than maintaining the flexibility already achieved. For example: holding a difficult stretching position requiring strength, effort, hard breathing, perspiration and increased heart rate. Another example is Dynamic Tension, a practice for increasing strength in which muscles are tensed and held that way for several seconds or minutes. One example of Dynamic Tension is grasping one's hands and pulling hard outwardly, gradually increasing the tension.

Dynamic stretching may also be movable, such as lifting up the ankles and slowly moving them in circles, or doing the same with other joints such as wrists, shoulders and head. In order to remain flexible for sporting activities, stretching both before and after a workout is essential. A good stretch can mean the difference between normally relaxed muscles after working out, or having muscle spasms and cramps. Continuous use of muscles without stretching them may cause a person to become "muscle bound," a painful condition in which muscles are unable to relax. In extreme cases muscles become hardened and lack mobility. Stretching the joints also strengthens them, therefore preventing serious sprains or broken bones after a fall. When joint ligaments are strong and supple they give greater support to the muscles and bones surrounding them.


Chapter 12-A~~Front and Back Turns
The Home Pool
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