Sunday, March 07, 2010

Natural Interval Training

Sunday’s I usually darn my weight vest and take my dog, Angel, for a walk at one of the local parks by my home. I use a vest primarily because I gain no real value of just meandering along on a walk and prefer a little more of a stimulating challenge. It’s also a great reminder to me of how it felt when I was lugging around all that extra weight years ago….but that’s another story for another time.

At this time of year (winter) and because Angel and I go out so very early morning, there are very few people in the park and therefore, I let her off the leash to romp around as I walk the park. If it snows (which we’ve had a ton of this year), we’ll trudge through the accumulation and encounter one helluva an adventure. As we take in the fresh air and sunrise, I watch her innate behavior as she sniffs this and that, pees here and there, sprints to here next spot and just has a good ‘ole time being outside and moving around. Interesting are her instinctive movement patterns that enable her to do our 3+ miles without her ever really getting tired as she is now pushing 9 years of age. Because of her intermittent bouts of sniffing, peeing, walking and sprinting so naturally, she has a built-in capacity to handle this workload as she would otherwise not as proof of when my wife takes her for a two mile run and she’s “dog tired”. However, when we’re done, she comes into the house and heads right outside the back door to play around some more. It’s apparent that she recovers well from her exercise as she isn’t panting when we’re done and she is able to be relaxed and breathing normally as soon as she lay’s down. In addition to her ability to have this recovery ability, this exercise pattern is a lot less stressful on her joints, pads and of course, her heart.

Now don’t confuse increased heart rate as not being stressful, I’m referring to a good stress that strengthens the heart and not a pattern that add strain to the heart in an ineffective way. It seems apparent, then, that this stop-and-go pattern (from the research I’ve read) offers a greater value to strengthening the heart rather than adding unproductive stress to it. Those who partake in some type of high level effort, high intensity training are already reaping the benefits of this exercise pattern, those who are not may want to consider some form of interval training to enhance their cardiovascular and muscular systems to improve their heart, lungs and musculature. Hmm, I guess you could say that maybe an old dog can teach us new tricks.

Fred Fornicola
Fitness Professional