Step up your aerobic capacity
Christmas time is fast approaching and if you haven’t noticed, your consumption of food has been a little more festive than usual and that is due to the end of year office parties, friends parties, kids Christmas parties and “aaah heck” all those drinks after the boys’ Friday golf.
If you are a family man, then the real fear is fast approaching with Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year. I am sure December was designed strategically to fatten you up to make you look a little like Santa’s adopted chubby elf or elfet.
Fear not my fellow warriors, we will tackle moms and grannies, Christmas pudding one bite, I mean one step, at a time together.
You need to no doubt increase your aerobic capacity during this time of year, to at least two to three times what you would normally do if you want your new year’s resolution list to be shorter. A gym, a CrossFit or a HIIT session is not enough. This time of year, you really need to haul butt and NO, it’s not too late. It’s never too late!
First up, you need to understand what aerobic capacity is, then understand the benefits to you and lastly, formulate a strategy to get you unscathed into the new year.
What is an athlete’s aerobic capacity?
An athlete’s aerobic capacity is the ability to use the oxygen in our body and muscles to fuel exercise activity. During exercise, your muscles rely on oxygen supply and carbohydrates for energy to keep you going through those low to moderate intensity training sessions. These come in the form of glycogen and fats in the muscles and body.
How does aerobic capacity benefit an athlete?
The more oxygen an athlete consumes, the more work the athlete can do as the muscles have the necessary energy to fuel the exercise activity. Think of it this way – if you are preparing for a drive down to Durban this holiday, but only have a quarter tank of petrol, how do you expect to make it all the way to your sunny beach holiday? You need to ensure that you have the right amount of fuel in the car to get you to your destination, and the same goes for fuelling your body for exercise and activity.
How can I add aerobic capacity training into my daily life?
There are three ways you can increase the amount of aerobic capacity in your daily lives. Remember, even though I said you need to work two to three-times your normal level, walking every day for three kilometres instead of one km is still three-times your daily movement goal. Work within your capacity but always consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program. One of your main goals for 2020 is to increase your movement, even if Santa needs to buy you a Fitbit for Christmas to measure you heart rate and step count. The goal is to move! By moving you are expending more daily consistent energy.
Three exercises you can add to your Christmas routine
1 Walking briskly – after lunch this week & next week, make an effort to go for a walk which doesn’t need to be too far, but the change I want you to make is to step up the intensity of the walk to a brisk walk, where we have the arms moving with the body and legs as we pick up the pace from a general walk to go and get a cup of coffee. Imagine, this is the last cup of coffee available in your area, and you need to get there! Start by walking for fve minutes in the evening and then as each day passes, increase that time by 60 seconds each walk.
2 Swimming – By including light swimming into your daily tasks, we are able to improve our aerobic capacity. The intensity of the swim doesn’t need to be any higher than a normal swim, however we can change the distance and time we swim to improve our aerobic capacity even further. Each time you go for your swim, add an extra two laps onto your total laps done that day.
3 Climbing stairs at work – Maybe you have been looking for the perfect excuse to take the stairs each day? Well this is it, the sign you have been looking for. Stair climbing requires about eight-11 kcal of energy per minute which shows us that active stair climbers are more fit and have a higher aerobic capacity.
Improving aerobic capacity can have many benefits for you, whether wanting to lose those unwanted bulges over the Christmas period or even completing strength training preparing for your next WOD or competition. Here are two examples:
1 By enhancing aerobic capacity, we improve blood and oxygen nutrient flow to the muscles that need them at any given time. This will also help with your recovery period post-workout as increased oxygen to muscles speeds up the repair and recovery process.
2 By increasing our oxygen supply to muscles, we improve mitochondrial density. Mitochondria are the organelles of a muscle that help produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which is the actual fuel we spoke of earlier, that supplies muscle contractions. By doing this, we are improving a muscle’s ability to use oxygen which also improves the overall health and function of the cells.