By Barbara Wintroub
As we charge into our later years, no holds barred, we concurrently insist on maintaining both our health and ﬁtness. This reality brings me to the question: Are we really good to our bodies with what we do to them?
I received a wonderful article about balancing exercise and rest for our muscles written by Gunnar Mossberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) on July 19th at http://www.signonsandiego.com. In his article, Gunnar quotes world-renowned exercise physiologist Per-Olof Astrand (Google him for more information). According to Per-Olof Astrand, our body holds a reserve of 70% of its total energy, leaving 30% for work, ADLʼs (activities of daily living) and other workouts (which would include pickleball). Rest periods are used for tissue recovery and repair.
What if we continually use more than our 30%, what really happens? We experience tissue breakdown and overuse injuries. Hmmmm, sound like anyone we know? Looked at from first the positive, then the negative perspective, the formula might be said to be: ‘Training + rest = health’ , or ‘Too much training + little rest = tissue breakdown, ﬁtness breakdown and performance breakdown’. Joint osteoarthritis, spinal disc degeneration and tendon issues are just a few of the problems.
If you are older and/or have a reduced ﬁtness level due to illness or surgery, your 30% energy could be reduced significantly. Doing the same workout we did when we were younger or even last year could be detrimental to our health. Therefore, you need to take a long look at your ﬁtness program.
Do you train correctly? By correctly I mean managing your training over time to build fitness. One such approach is called ‘pyramid training’. Pyramid training begins slowly at the bottom of the pyramid, then time and intensity move up a level as your ﬁtness level improves, until you reach the top of the pyramid and you peak for your event. Take an Ironman Triathlete or marathon runner who trains for a major event. As the athlete’s ﬁtness level improves, it gets easier to do the same amount of exercise so s/he can push a bit more each time. Eventually that person is able to do a 4-5 hour marathon or a 13-15 hour Ironman Triathlon.
You might have only 30% of total body energy available, but the exercise becomes easier as your ﬁtness level rises, so you can exercise more for the same 30%. That is what is called being ﬁt. But here is the catch. Many times the athlete gets sick or injured the week before the event because they pushed too hard at the end of their training period without proper rest periods. Bottom line: rest is key to improved performance.
Here are a few things to do on your way to increasing your ﬁtness:
1. Don’t red line your heart by working out to exhaustion
2. Use lower intensity, endurance-type exercise such as bicycling, swimming and jogging slowly as cross training. Cross training is what makes you stronger and more ﬁt. More pickleball just gives you overuse syndrome.
3. Drill on the pickleball court part of the time and play part of the time.
4. Sit down and rest when you get tired.
5. Nap if possible.
6. Eat healthy foods like green leafy vegetables, fresh veggies, fresh fruit not juice. Leave out carbs with white sugar. A banana, low fat yogurt and a bagel for breakfast is not a balanced healthy way to hit the pickleball court. Why not? Any low fat product has more sugar in it (not more calories, but more sugar). A banana converts to sugar and a bagel is starch (which converts to sugar). Put a little almond butter and banana on the bagel or tuna on the bagel for some added protein.
7. Stretch after you exercise. Stretch all the time. Stretching even a little goes a long way for your health.
There are many pickleball tournaments coming up this season. You need to be healthy and ready to compete. Being an athlete is tough on your body, so plan your exercise and rest wisely.