UN­LOCK MORE ENERGY

Find out how to make your body pro­duce ni­tric ox­ide, the fuel your mus­cles need to work more ef­fi­ciently.

Shape (Singapore) - - Contents -

There’s a se­cret source of power within you: Tap it and you’ll feel stronger, go far­ther, even live longer.

That won­der fuel is called ni­tric ox­ide, and though your body makes it nat­u­rally, chances are you need more. Here’s how to stay fired up.

Nope, it’s not the stuff you in­hale at the den­tist’s of­fice (that’s ni­trous ox­ide). Ni­tric ox­ide (NO) is produced in your body, and it has far-reach­ing perks.

Your im­mune cells re­lease it to kill in­fec­tious bac­te­ria. It also keeps your mi­to­chon­dria, which sup­ply you with energy, run­ning smoothly and di­lates your blood ves­sels, re­duc­ing blood pres­sure and im­prov­ing cir­cu­la­tion.

But NO’s big­gest ben­e­fits are re­served for your mus­cles.

“Sev­eral re­cent stud­ies have re­vealed that the gas makes your mus­cles more ef­fi­cient, and as a re­sult, they re­quire less oxy­gen to work out at higher in­ten­si­ties,” says An­drew Jones, a pro­fes­sor of ap­plied phys­i­ol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Ex­eter. That means it’s eas­ier for you to push your­self harder.

Un­for­tu­nately, your lev­els of this ben­e­fi­cial gas start to dip as early as age 25.

But it’s so es­sen­tial to good health that An­drew says ev­ery­one would ben­e­fit from up­ping their sup­ply, in­clud­ing fit women.

These three sci­ence­backed strate­gies will help you fill your tank. KICK IT HIGHER WITH CAR­DIO “When you work out, your heart pumps harder. The ad­di­tional pres­sure on the ar­te­rial wall trig­gers the pro­duc­tion of NO, which then helps the blood ves­sels di­late to al­low for the in­creased cir­cu­la­tion,” says Dr James Rippe, a car­di­ol­o­gist and fit­ness ex­pert and the founder of the Rippe Life­style In­sti­tute, a health re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion in the US.

The best ex­er­cise for NO pro­duc­tion is car­dio, be­cause it re­ally revs up your heart rate and blood flow, he says.

Your lev­els of the gas will start to climb af­ter a sin­gle 30-minute ses­sion, but if you con­tinue to get your heart pump­ing three or more times a week, your body will pro­duce more NO ev­ery­day. GET JUICED While ex­er­cis­ing in­creases your over­all stores of NO, you can get a quick jolt of it to help fuel your next work­out by down­ing a glass of beet juice. The drink is loaded with ni­trate, a com­pound the body breaks down to form NO.

In a re­cent study, cy­clists who drank 150ml to 270ml of beet juice 2½ hours be­fore a work­out were able to in­crease the time they spent ped­alling by as much as 14 per­cent.

Not a fan of beets? An­drew says spinach also has enough ni­trate to give you an edge. STEP INTO THE LIGHT Spend­ing time out­doors

will rev up your NO. Peo­ple who were ex­posed to UVA rays for 20 min­utes found that their NO lev­els rose and their blood pres­sure dropped, the Jour­nal of In­ves­tiga­tive

Der­ma­tol­ogy re­ports. The study au­thors say the skin has its own stores of NO and that UVA rays un­lock them, re­leas­ing the mol­e­cules into your blood­stream.

But this is the same type of UV light that’s re­spon­si­ble for skin age­ing, wrin­kles and can­cer, so al­ways put on SPF be­fore head­ing out. It will re­duce UVA ex­po­sure and may mean you pro­duce slightly less NO, but ex­perts say you’ll likely still get enough to reap the health ben­e­fits.

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