Gradually increasing the intensity of your workout as you become conditioned
Lactic acid doesn’t stay around long and it has nothing to do with muscle soreness.
Have you ever heard this misguided advice about exercise: “Don’t exercise too hard. Lactic acid will build up and cause a burning sensation in your muscles. Too much of it will ruin your workout.”
Well … laboratory science has finally caught up with what I learned in the gym years ago. You need to generate, not avoid, lactic acid during a good workout.
Research by Dr. George Brooks at the University of California at Berkeley showed that your mitochondria (the energy factories in your muscle cells) absorb and use lactic acid as fuel. Lactic acid doesn’t stay around long and it has nothing to do with muscle soreness.
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To make your exercise more effective, focus on gradually increasing the intensity of your workout as you become conditioned. If you are walking, swimming, or riding a bicycle, for example, you can time how long it takes you to get to a certain distance, and then try to shave five seconds off your time in each of your following workouts at the same distance. In other words, each day you exercise, try to cover the same distance five seconds faster.
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This extra challenge shifts you from the aerobic (with oxygen) zone to the anaerobic (without oxygen) zone. By asking your lungs to supply more oxygen than they can handle, you create an oxygen debt, which triggers a series of powerful health-enhancing events.
First, you will signal your body to pump up your lung volume – a prime anti-aging tool. Second, you boost the reserve capacity in your heart – critical for avoiding heart attacks. And third, you use lactic acid for fuel, which tells your body to reduce fat building.
Try it out and let me know how it goes!
Talk to you soon,
Dr. Justin Trosclair, DC
Serving St Martin Parish, Lafayette, Breaux Bridge, Carencro
(Source: Gina Kolata, writing in The New York Times)