We know the importance of following a good nutritional programme and the benefits of doing so. We may also know that combining this with regular physical activity is going to bring the best results for those interested in a complete health and fitness regime.
The Benefits Of Exercise And Training
There are a number of health and fitness benefits associated with regular exercise and training. We have two main forms of exercise, aerobic and anaerobic.
There are a number of similar benefits to both, but each also provides additional benefits not seen from the other. These have been summarized below:
Walking, jogging, running, cycling, and swimming are all forms of aerobic exercise.
Aerobic fitness can be defined as the ability to take in, transport, and utilize oxygen in the body to produce energy.
With long duration, submaximal exercise such as walking and running the body uses a combination of fats and carbohydrates to produce energy.
The term ‘anaerobic’ means ‘in the absence of oxygen’ or ‘without oxygen’. During anaerobic exercise, your body’s demand for oxygen is greater than the available oxygen supply.
While aerobic exercise is fuelled by oxygen, anaerobic exercise is fuelled by energy stored in muscles.
Most anaerobic exercise is extremely high intensity, short-duration exercise lasting from just a few seconds to minutes.
This is the direct opposite of aerobic exercise, which involves the sustained activity of moderate intensity.
Having an understanding of the exercise fundamentals that apply to both aerobic and anaerobic training ensures that the desired benefits previously mentioned are produced. Also, it helps us further understand how these types of exercise affect the body and the nutritional demands to best support it.
ELEMENTS OF TRAINING
There are a number of elements that should be considered when someone undertakes exercise. These key elements are common to both aerobic and anaerobic training but are essentially represented differently due to the differences in training styles.
The volume of training is essentially the total amount of work completed. For aerobic training the volume is typically calculated by the total distance completed i.e. how far they ran, or via total time.
Anaerobic training is typically calculated by recording the total number of repetitions per session or the total weight lifted (reps x weight).
This volume can then be used as a base for each training session, number of training sessions completed in a specific time or the training frequency.
Intensity is described as how much ‘effort’ was applied to the session.
For anaerobic work such as weight training, intensity is typically measured as the percentage of the maximal weight that it is possible to lift for 1 repetition in that chosen exercise.
If someone has a 1 rep max of 100 pounds in the bench press, yet was only lifting 60 pounds, they are working with a training intensity of 60%.
For aerobic training, this intensity element is typically classified as a percentage of maximal heart rate. Maximal heart rate can be calculated using the following equation,
Max heart rate = 208 – (0.7 x age in years)*
Therefore someone performing aerobic exercise at 140bpm with a max heart rate of 200 is considered to have an intensity of 70%.
Responses To Exercise
For exercise, it’s clear to say that skeletal muscle is one of the key factors designed to produce the required force to make it happen.
Aerobic Training Response
Long-term endurance exercise has shown to increase someone’s maximal oxygen uptake, which will result in the ability to deliver more oxygenated blood to the working skeletal muscles. It can also enhance a muscle fibres ability to extract and use oxygen for energy production.
Anaerobic Training Responses
Long-term anaerobic training such as weight lifting will most probably result in increases in muscular strength and size. The primary way that muscle hypertrophy occurs is by growth of individual muscle fibres. Longer term increases in muscle strength result primarily from muscle hypertrophy.
Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
DOMS are the result of muscle fibre damage. This results in a muscular pain or discomfort approximately 16-24 hours after a training session. This soreness is usually located in the most worked muscles from that training session and can peak around 24-48 hours after. This damage is readily repaired with adequate rest and recovery.
Our neuroendocrine system is linked to a whole host of metabolic and hormonal regulations and responses. With exercise, the body responds by releasing a large number of anabolic and catabolic hormones that are triggered to deal with the remodeling and repair of tissue.
Out of the many hormones, the ones that appear to show the greatest response to exercise (weight training in particular) are:
Weight training has been shown to increase total testosterone levels in men only, which is considered to have one of the strongest links to triggering further anabolic processes and hormones in the body.
Growth Hormone (GH)
GH, also known as somatotropin, is a peptide hormone that stimulates growth, cell reproduction and regeneration in humans.
Cortisol is released in response to the stress of exercise and similar elevations appear in men and women.
Insulin is central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. It causes cells in the skeletal muscles and fat tissue to absorb glucose from the blood.
These are released from the adrenal glands.They are important for increasing energy availability, force production and muscle contraction rate.They are considered part of the ‘fight or flight’ response and elevation of these are seen after (and occasionally before) intense training sessions.
The result is usually a short-term decrease in performance capacity, for which restoration may take several days to a few weeks.
Markers of overtraining:
• Decreased desire to train, decreased joy from training
• Decreased performance
• Decreased percentage of body fat
• Decreased maximal oxygen uptake
• Altered blood pressure
• Increased muscle soreness
• Altered resting heart rate
• Altered cortisol concentration
• Decreased total testosterone concentration
• Increased sympathetic stress response
Nutrition For Exercise Training
No matter what level of exercise or sport undertaken, the goal should be to always establish a solid nutrition foundation to adequately set the stage for reaching optimal training performance and recovery.
Below are a number of nutritional considerations for people undertaking regular athletic and exercise routines.
For an active person it is important to always calculate caloric needs based on their individual needs.Many people find exercise performance and recovery to be highly related to optimal calorie intake to balance their specific energy expenditure.
Exercise intensity and duration is a key factor when determining the carbohydrate needs for an active person. Carbohydrates are necessary to replenish and maintain muscle glycogen levels to optimize performance and reduce fatigue.
Protein requirements for exercising individuals will be higher than non-exercisers and this is to help boost protein synthesis, reduce recovery time and maintain a positive nitrogen balance.It is suggested that protein intake be set to 1.5 -2g per kg per day for regular exercisers, with protein sources being of high quality.
Healthy fats should always have a place in an exerciser’s diet, but less may be required to ensure adequate amounts of protein and carbohydrates are met.
Programming and timing of adequate dietary ingestion can improve performance and recovery from exercise.
There are a number of supplements that may benefit the exerciser, including: –
• Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
The ingestion of BCAA mixture before or after training has been shown to provide potential benefits to optimize performance and limit fatigue.
• Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce any issues of immune system suppression from exercise. By enhancing the immune system, the exerciser can be sure they are not susceptible to illness or poor health.
Zinc has been shown to reduce various cold symptoms and ensure normal metabolism.