🏃♂️ The perfect bedtime snack
This week we talk about mental health and new ways to reduce anxiety, the perfect bedtime snack to help recovery and aging, and VO2max.
Happy running, 😁
Using Running to Manage Anxiety
Studies have shown running has profound abilities to lower anxiety levels.
Runner’s high is a real thing, a sense of euphoria that helps runners feel relaxed and calm.
Running releases a flood of endorphins into your blood. Endorphins are also known as the “feel-good” chemicals because they produce feelings of happiness and pleasure.
And you can take the benefits of running to calm anxiety and feel relaxed a notch by trying the following three things on your next run:
1. Run in Nature
Running through nature, and especially green space enhances the calming effect of running.
Research shows that simply being in green spaces can lower stress hormone levels (like cortisol) and blood pressure.
So when you run in nature is like a double whammy to calm your anxiety.
2. Moderate Intensity is Your Friend
The best way to release those feel-good chemicals is by running at moderate intensities.
- Moderate intensity = 70–85% of your maximum heart rate.
David Raichlen, Ph.D., a professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California, points out that when it comes to exercise, there is an inverted U-shaped curve, with very low and very high levels of intensity not eliciting high levels of chemicals.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a great way to teach your body to be present, enjoy what you have, and reduce your anxiety levels.
Focusing on your breathing, how your footsteps sound, or how your clothes feel are great ways to practice mindfulness while running.
Just like running in nature, you are layering ways to be calm and improve your mood.
- Running + Nature + Mindfulness = TRIPLE WHAMMY against anxiety.
The Perfect Bedtime Snack
When you just finished a workout, you are actually less fit than before your workout; it’s during recovery when your body adapts, and improvements occur.
And according to this study, we can help your body recover better with some pre-sleep protein ingestion.
Protein ingested before sleep is effectively digested and absorbed during overnight sleep, increasing overnight muscle protein synthesis rates.
In simpler terms, you’re providing the amino acids needed for repair and growth.
How much should you take?
The study suggests around 30g of protein. Or a scoop of protein powder to make it easier.
What about vegan proteins?
Whey or casein proteins seem to be most effective due to their high muscle-building leucine content not found in plant proteins.
That doesn’t mean that protein plants don’t work, but there has not been a study comparing them. The HRW team uses vegan protein as recovery shakes.
What about gaining weight?
Fair question, we runners like to be as lean as possible, but research shows that the additional protein calories before sleep do not harm fat metabolism.
Maintaining VO2max as You Age
It’s well known, and research supports it, that as we age, we lose muscle mass, body weight, and VO2max.
VO2max (also called “aerobic capacity”) plays a crucial role in endurance performance. It’s so telling of one’s fitness that we can somewhat closely predict race performances based on it.
So, if your VO2max declines, your race times will decline too.
The good news is that there are ways to maintain or even briefly improve your VO2max as you age.
The most effective and efficient use of your time and energy to achieve this is doing interval training.
Interval Training Sample Session
This is a typical first session for someone who has not done interval training recently.
Warmup for 15 minutes: Gradually increase the intensity until you hit zone 3.
Main set – Do 3 x 3-minute reps with each rep in zone 4 and 3 minutes of recovery in zone 1 between them
Cooldown – run in zone 1 for 15 to 20 minutes.
Once you feel comfortable with this session, you can start doing harder, longer ones to keep improving.
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