Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Exercise Thoughts

Like I said in the previous post, exercise is one of the three keys to weight loss. As I assume every dieting book (I've only read one) tells you, one pound of fat contains 3500kcal. Now, there are two ways to lose an excess pound of fat
  • Reduce your calorie intake (as discussed in the previous post)
  • Use up more calories i.e. exercise more
  • Alternatively, you can use a combination of the above
Say the goal is to lose 1 pound of fat per week, then you'd need to consume 500kcal per day less or do 500kcal worth of exercise. My approach at the moment is basically option three above. I'm not sticking to a rigorous regime as such, just trying to ensure that my calorie intake is less than my calorie needs (I estimate it at about 3100kcal per day) and that most days I do at least 30mins of physical activity.

So far so good on the above approach. As mentioned in my last post, I'm eating about 2300kcal worth of food and exercising is using up approx 400kcal per day on average. Since I started this latest push on the 7th of April, my weekly weight loss has been about 0.83kg (calorie deficit of approx 918kcal).

I personally think that exercise is the key. Limiting food intake on its own would NEVER work for me. I can do 1500kcal days every so often, but I'd jack it all in pretty fast if every day was limited to that level. With a (say) 2300kcal diet, I'm still coming in at 200kcal less than the recommended daily amount for an "average" male. Add an extra 400kcal of exercise onto that, and I've easily passed the 500kcal level to lose a pound a week.

Its not quite as simple as that though...the intensity of exercise dictates the proportion of fat that's burned in a given session. The highest percentage of fat burning takes place in the recovery zone...I won't get into that here, but we're basically talking walking pace.

Which brings us onto walking. Walking is great. Can't recommend it enough. Very low impact, which is great when your carrying extra pounds like me. Very low intensity so you can essentially do it all day. All you need are a pair of comfortable shoes and your off.

Best of all, from a fat burning perspective, a significant proportion of your energy needs comes from fat at this pace. However, you'll need to invest significant time to burn lots of calories this way. That said, for an hour long walk, I'd proably consume about 500kcal. Not bad.

Running is definitly a more energy consuming activity. Although the proportion of fat burned is lower than walking, due to the increase in total calories burned, you can easily burn more calories of fat this way. Again, at low intensities it can be relatively easy, though you're less likely to be able to do it for long periods of time unless you're pretty fit.

Its a lot tougher on the knee's though and a good pair of running shoes are recommended. Also the intensity is very important, as I've found out to my detriment. When I used to run before, I'd basically start off by running as long as I could as fast as I could, take a rest and repeat. Next day, I'd be crippled! More than likely the following day as well. This made it VERY easy to miss a run or two and eventually give up!

Nowadays, I keeping my running intensity pretty low, hoping to build a base level of fitness before upping the intensity. I measure my intensity using a heart rate monitor (best tool ever...another post planned on this sometime). The end result of which is that I'm either on the treadmill (not as tough on the knees) or on the roads at least 5 days a week with no serious leg pains...success.

This forms the back bone of my fitness training. Its still work in progess, but there is progress and its measurable. I'm considering doing a 10k benchmark run next weekend (and hopefully every month thereafter) to officially keep track of progress under race conditions.

Another great exercise, but unfortunately I'm not really getting out on the bike all that much. Generally tend to drive into work, which is shocking really. But fitness wise, I'm generally quite strong on the bike so I'm just happy to get out on it from time to time (weather permitting).

Again, hope to do a 10mile time trial with one of the clubs in Cambridge in the next week or two to set a benchmark to improve upon.

One sporting activity that I cannot do, to my shame! Currently learning using the Total Immersion method (which I'll post about in the future) and seeing definite signs of improvement. Any evening I'm in the gym, I'm trying to spend at least 20mins in the pool. Some day, I'll get this skill nailed!

Other Sports
Of course, I'm always up for playing other sports. I'm so focused on the running at the moment, I'm starting to get a little annoyed when they start to interfere though. Generally, training with Cambridge Parnells GAA team once or twice a week, playing with St. Anthony's GAA team in Reading most weekends which keeps me busy. I usually play a 5-a-side game most Wednesdays at work and I've also started to play the odd game of squash with one of the lads at work. Might cut one or two of these back for a while, as they sometimes seem to much, i.e. today I played squash at lunch, gaa training in the evening and a run in the gym afterwards. Probably a little too much.

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