UbodyMag-MarchFeat-002Accumulating lactic acid in your muscles makes you a better athlete, helps to prevent diseases and may even prolong your life. Athletes use a form of interval training to make themselves faster and stronger, and everyone with a healthy heart can benefit from this technique. Interval training means to exercise so vigorously that you get short of breath, slow down and when you recover your breath, you exercise intensely enough to become short of breath again. Then you alternate intense intervals and recovery until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt, and then stop the workout for the day. For example, warm up by running very slowly for five to 10 minutes, and then run a little faster until you become short of breath, slow down until you recover your breath and repeat until your legs start to feel heavy or hurt.
Intervals to Make You a Better Athlete
You cannot enlarge a muscle and make it stronger unless you damage it with vigorous exercise. When it heals, it is larger and stronger. You cannot improve your ability to take in and use oxygen unless you exercise vigorously enough to become short of breath. Interval training allows you to exercise more intensely than continuous training and therefore give you a stronger training effect by causing more muscle fiber damage and greater oxygen debts.
Intervals to Prevent Disease and Prolong Your Life
A regular exercise program helps to prevent diabetes, heart attacks, and cancers. Interval training may be even more effective in preventing heart attacks and cancers because it helps to lower high blood sugar more effectively than continuous training by making cells far more sensitive to insulin (Int J Sports Med, published online November 6, 2014). Vigorous exercise increases the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in your muscle cells. All of the cells in your body (except mature red blood cells) have anywhere from a few to thousands of organelles, called mitochondria, that turn the food that you eat into energy. Muscle cells need a lot of energy so they have lots of mitochondria. Nerves don’t need a lot of energy to transmit messages so they need only a few mitochondria. When you exercise so intensely that you can’t get all the oxygen you need and you become short of breath, you increase the number, size and efficiency of mitochondria in cells everywhere in your body. Accumulating evidence shows that this helps to prevent overweight, diabetes, heart attacks and certain cancers. It helps to explain why exercise increases memory and nerve function. Exercise also helps to reduce the loss of mitochondria in cells that occurs naturally with aging (Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, April, 2007).