Tag Archives: old man winter

The benefits of upper body cardio

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for many years, or secretly invented a drug that provides the benefits of exercise without actually exercising, we all know we have to exercise. The real question when it comes to exercise is “how?”.

IMG_0625

When most people think of cardio, they think of exercises that primarily use the legs: walking, running, and cycling. Even many otherwise fit people often neglect to do endurance work on their arms if their favorite cardio exercise is a leg exercise.

A cardio workout that includes both the arms and legs may be more beneficial than a workout that exercises either alone – Aerobic exercise training programs for the upper body. In fact, arm cardio all by itself has some interesting benefits: Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1988 Apr;20(2):136-41 – “Effect of arm training on central and peripheral circulatory function.”

The data suggest that endurance arm training as prescribed in this study elicits significant circulorespiratory function adaptations to support improved performance in both arm and leg work. Further, the findings suggest both a specific and general training effect, with the more dominant effect specific to arm work

This is pretty remarkable. So doing arm cardio can benefit the entire body, including the legs, not just the arms.

This raises an important question, and this is especially important for jogglers – Are the arms and legs in competition for cardiac output? Luckily, some scientists at the The Copenhagen Muscle Research Center, have already tried to answer this:

Oxygen transport to working skeletal muscles is challenged during whole-body exercise. In general, arm-cranking exercise elicits a maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) corresponding to approximately 70% of the value reached during leg exercise. However, in arm-trained subjects such as rowers, cross-country skiers, and swimmers, the arm VO2max approaches or surpasses the leg value. Despite this similarity between arm and leg VO2max, when arm exercise is added to leg exercise, VO2max is not markedly elevated, which suggests a central or cardiac limitation. In fact, when intense arm exercise is added to leg exercise, leg blood flow at a given work rate is approximately 10% less than during leg exercise alone. Similarly, when intense leg exercise is added to arm exercise, arm blood flow and muscle oxygenation are reduced by approximately 10%. Such reductions in regional blood flow are mainly attributed to peripheral vasoconstriction induced by the arterial baroreflex to support the prevailing blood pressure. This putative mechanism is also demonstrated when the ability to increase cardiac output is compromised; during exercise, the prevailing blood pressure is established primarily by an increase in cardiac output, but if the contribution of the cardiac output is not sufficient to maintain the preset blood pressure, the arterial baroreflex increases peripheral resistance by augmenting sympathetic activity and restricting blood flow to working skeletal muscles.

(Emphasis is mine)

Leg blood flow 10% less during arm/leg exercise, than leg exercise alone? This is significant, and I must admit that when I joggle it certainly feels like this sometimes. But then at the same time, don’t forget the general fitness benefit from arm cardio suggested by the first study. So it may be 10% less than a higher blood output rate than if I were only running. In other words, a higher fitness level that is the result of leg/arm combination cardio is being compromised than a lower fitness level that is the result of mostly leg cardio. And don’t forget that unless you’re joggling with 3 heavy balls(or 4 or more light balls), juggling isn’t as intense as rowing, so it may be a lot less than 10%.

So if for whatever reason you can’t run or walk long distances, juggling by itself can also provide aerobic benefits. Also, if you joggle, or you are considering joggling, your leg speed may be slightly compromised, but it’s not really a big deal and the juggling may be making you fitter than if you were just a runner.

Old Man Winter versus the joggler part III

Old Man Winter is now really really here. Not a brief cameo. Not a brief, uneventful visit. He is actually here, and He is here to stay with us for a little while, and I am having a fantastic time joggling in it. My earlier experiences about joggling in winter weather wasn’t about the real winter but only a foretaste of it. Now it is the real thing, with snow and ice blanketing the ground, below freezing temperatures and harsh, angry winds that present a unique set of challenges to outdoor exercise. These challenges are very far from insurmountable, so this kind of weather is not a good excuse to stay indoors. He may have a bad temper at times, but make your peace with Old Man Winter to stay fit.

A hat, a few good layers and sweat pants are all you need to stay warm if you are active and the weather is dry. However, when it comes to joggling, finding the right glove can be tricky. They need to be dexterous, and keep you warm at the same time. So they can’t be too big and fluffy. It also helps if they can quantum-teleport themselves to your location if you forget them at home, but they don’t make gloves like this yet(unlike my winter hat).

They also need to be moisture-resistant, for when/if you drop balls in the snow or if you joggle when its snowing(I know none of the jogglers reading this ever drop balls, but just in case). My old work/hiking gloves are all but useless in this weather, which I found out a few days ago while joggling in the evening through a wooded area in the snow. So I bought some new gloves from the local sporting goods store for $16.00.
Wellslamont

The new gloves I got are Wells Lamont and are partially made from Thinsulate. The palm is 60% nylon, 40% polyurethane, while the back is 96% polyester and 4% spandex. gloves2The lining is 100% polyester and the insulation is 100% Thinsulate(100% polyester). Although they will take some getting used to, I have no major issues with them since I didn’t drop the balls very often when I joggled today. The biggest problem is that the middle palm area is a little baggy which may be responsible for the occasional awkward throw and some of the drops. The ice was also responsible for a few drops. They are comfortable, they fit nice and snug, and they are dexterous. They kept my hands warm and dry, even after joggling in them for an hour and after picking up balls from the snow. It was in the upper 20s while I joggled and I didn’t feel it. I think joggling keeps me warmer than regular running. I believe these gloves would be good for a variety of outdoor activities in the winter, but I wouldn’t use them for polar bear wrestling.

It goes without saying that the cold, dry air is also no friend to our lungs, though not as devilish as tobacco smoke. It is the dryness that is more of a problem than the coldness, since cold air won’t freeze our lungs, not even at some of the coldest temperatures on the earth. Our lungs function better when there is some moisture in the air, so dry air can be irritating and inflammatory – even warm, dry air. People with asthma or other respiratory problems may be better off taking it easy in this kind of weather. But don’t avoid cold air if you think it will cause the common cold; I’m sure all my readers know this, but spread the word.

I never run or joggle with a scarf or mask on, since I think it would interfere with my breathing and too much moisture will collect on it from my breathing and runny nose. I think it is only a matter of getting used to the cold, dry air.

I won’t let this cold weather keep me inside, and neither should you.

Old Man Winter versus the Joggler part II

Old Man Winter did not want me or anyone out there yesterday in his snowstorm. As time went by, the wind he threw at me became angrier, and my hands became colder and wetter, as if joggling in the snow was the ultimate act of defiance. In spite of all this I refused to concede defeat, and managed to joggle straight for an hour, even making good time, as if it was a sunny 50 F(10 C) degree day. I even managed to do my usual route along the Bronx river.

This is unlike the last time I joggled in a snowstorm for around 20 minutes(and ran and power-walked for another 30 minutes) running into stores to take shelter every now and then. Yesterday was the real thing.

Due to my feet and hands becoming very cold and wet, I definitely need better winter clothing. I dropped the balls many times due to the wind and my cold hands feeling like they were going to fall off, even though I had gloves on. There was almost no other soul out there. Luckily there was little snow accumulation, since it was about 35 F(1.6 C). I almost slipped a few times, but always managed to quickly correct my footing. If the temperature had been below freezing, I probably wouldn’t have been out there for an hour.

This was one of my most humbling joggling experiences. It felt fantastic upon completion; it was such a relief to get home, to finally warm up and dry off. I do not recommend joggling in snowstorms, unless you have a lot of experience hiking or playing sports in the snow. Just because I can sort of do it, doesn’t mean you should. 

 

Old Man Winter versus the Joggler

Too bad I can’t borrow the fur, feet and reflexes of this guy.

Winter will soon be upon us. This won’t be the first winter I’ve joggled in. I have no problem joggling in a snowstorm or snow, as long as it isn’t too deep, and already did so in an early recent snowstorm, even with heavy snow blowing in my face. It was a ton of fun, but it is also a lot more exhausting. Obviously, the snow blowing in my face temporarily blinded and disoriented me so that I was more likely to drop the balls(I was surprised by how little I dropped them though I didn’t do it for very long).

Normally I dread Old Man Winter, since he often makes the roads and trails I use for joggling almost impassible with snow and/or ice. But I really should see this more as an opportunity, however challenging the weather conditions might be. I realize I may not be able to joggle at all if there there is too much ice in my area. When it rains cats and dogs, I often “joggle” in place at home; while it may not be the real thing, at least I am still getting a good aerobic workout.

I will do the same thing if ice or blizzards make outside conditions too difficult for outdoor exercise. Again, I keep repeating to myself “opportunity”. Maybe I’ll learn new things about joggling due to the nasty weather. In a way, it is like a new winter sport, “Old Man Winter versus the Joggler”. I have to outsmart it. I may have to learn some new tricks, and will definitely have to dress the right way, to win this battle against the elements.

In the very least, the challenging conditions of the winter will help improve my fitness to the degree that when spring comes around, I may be almost unstoppable at races.