Running, Skipping and Cycling
RUN, SKIP AND CYCLE YOUR WAY TO A FITTER BODY
Do you think you have to be confined to a gym or an aerobic class to be fit? Not at all. Fitness needn’t be expensive, boring or regimented. Be innovative and do different activities, indoors or outdoors, to get out of a fitness rut. Whether you choose to run, cycle, skip or even play a game of catch, it doesn’t matter! Indulge in whatever activity you enjoy. Make sure you have fun to the boot while getting trim, toned and taut.
Regular exercise is important for everyone. Yes, you’ve heard that a million times, but it should become an integral part of day-to-day living. If you need a reason to stay committed, it is a great idea to team up with a partner or a friend. Having a partner to workout with you, not only provides additional motivation, but also makes exercising twice as much fun!
Buddy workouts help you increase intensity without trying too hard! When you are busy pacing one another, you don’t realize the effort you are putting into your workouts.
The three forms of fitness activities described below are:
Running is a wonderful aerobic exercise that pushes your pulse into your target zone and keeps it there for as long as you desire. It is a simple activity that you can do anywhere at your convenience. You can run on a track, the beach, grass, hills, set of stairs, parks and trails.
Once you have a running foundation, you can work on improving your speed, stamina and strength. When you make running a habit, you are sure to get hooked…. it is an exhilarating experience!
Running is known to be a mood-altering activity that can still your mind and sharpen your focus. It eases stress, alleviates depression and helps renew and restore your mental well being. How does that happen?
Running is known to release endorphins and other brain chemicals that help relieve pain and induce pleasure.
Good runners power their performance from their centre or core. You have a center of gravity at the mid-section of your body, right around your belly button. That’s your core, and every movement should be balanced from that point out in terms of arm action, how you place your feet and track your legs. Proper form can make you a more efficient runner, but even more important, it can help prevent injuries.
- Hold your stomach muscles tight to maintain good posture.
- Keep your back flat and your head in line with your spine.
- Use your arms. They act as a balance for your legs. Keep your elbows slightly bent, and movement of the arms should initiate from the shoulder joint.
- Relax your shoulders. Hunched shoulders will impair your arm action and create tension in the neck and shoulders.
- Always maintain a heel-toe action when running.
- When you want to quicken your pace, ensure that you work the arms harder as well as the legs.
- When running uphill, alter your body weight forwards in the stride to allow for the steeper gradient.
- Wear a pair of good quality running shoes so that there is greater shock absorption for the legs.
- When sprinting, alter your running action so that you run on the balls of your feet, rather than maintaining the heel-toe action.
Running strengthens the legs, develops endurance, eases tension and burns fat.
It is one of the most efficient ways to improve cardiovascular fitness.
Can you take the pounding?
Not every human body can take the stress of activity involved with running. Running places intense stress on your joints; about three or four times your body weight. If you are new to exercising, progress gradually from jogging to running. Make sure your knee joints and back muscles are strong enough to be able to withstand the sport.
Do these running workouts with your partner. Try to increase speed or endurance using your partner as a pacer
Do 100-m sprint intervals with 2 minutes recovery intervals.
Jog 5 minutes. Run 25 minutes. Jog 5 minutes.
Run up hill. Walk down hill. Jog on level ground for 2 minutes. Repeat.
Skipping is convenient and does not require a lot of space or any special equipment. You can carry the rope with you anywhere.
Skipping workouts not only condition the body but also provide excellent cardiovascular and fat burning benefits in minimal time. Many boxers and athletes use it as a part of their training routine. Tennis champ, Jimmy Connors used to skip rope as part of his conditioning routine.
Rope jumping requires skill. With practice this skill improves, and then you don’t need to jump as high to get over the rope. Also, in time, the arm and overall body movements become more efficient.
A beginner works at 85 percent of his maximum energy capacity, while an experience skipper may be cruising along at only 40 percent of his energy capacity, and also skipping a lot faster.
If the rope touches the feet while you are skipping, it means the rope is too short. If it touches the ground, it is too long. To determine the correct length of the rope, place the center of the rope under one foot. Stand up straight. Then with your arms against your sides, bring hands to your shoulders while pulling the rope tight. This should be the length of the rope suited for you. The ends of the rope have handles or a knot, to make it easy to hold while skipping.
Skipping strengthens the muscles of the legs, abdomen, back and arms with its circular rhythmic movement. It is an excellent exercise for the heart and lungs, and is considered one of the most efficient workouts to increase cardiovascular fitness.
A skipping program improves:
- Cardio respiratory fitness
- Mobility and co-ordination
- Agility and balance
- Timing, rhythm and speed
- Lean body mass and muscle strength
- Bone density
- Wear supportive cross-trainers, tennis or basket ball shoes while skipping.
- Avoid jumping on floors laid over concrete and other hard surfaces. If you don’t have a wooden or carpeted floor, place a thin exercise mat on whatever surface you have access to.
- Stretch all major muscle groups, especially your calves.
- Skipping can place considerable stress on the feet, ankles, knees and back.
- Always allow a day’s rest between skipping workouts, to avoid undue strain on the joints.
- This activity is not recommended for anyone with weak knees or any kind of back problem.
- Skip for 200 counts, while your partner jogs. Switch activities. Repeat 5 times.
- Skip 150 counts at a slow speed, the next 50 counts skip as fast as you can. Repeat thrice. Try to compete with your partner when you are increasing skipping speed.
The next two routines combine skipping with strength exercises to provide for a greater challenge:
- Skip for one minute, while your partner does crunches. Switch activities. Repeat. Skip for one minute, while your partner does 16 push-ups. Switch activities. Repeat.
- Skip for 250 counts. Do 16 sit-ups. Do 16 push-ups. Do a16 squats. Repeat this sequence twice or thrice. Do this routine in tandem with your partner.
Cycling is becoming increasingly popular because it is safe on the joints and is considered a low-impact activity. This is due to the fact that while cycling the weight of the cyclist is borne by the saddle.
Cycling indoors or outdoors is an exciting experience! Outdoor cycling can include cycle tracks in parks, along beaches or on roads. Indoor cycling can be exciting too! With “spin” and other cycle classes, you can control your training program without stepping outdoors.
Cycling is beneficial for toning the legs (mainly the quadriceps), and is also a great exercise to burn fat. Like any form of regular, aerobic exercise, bicycling improves personal fitness, enhances energy levels, reduces stress, and stimulates the immune system.
Good posture is very important when cycling. Check your body position regularly and make the necessary adjustments to your bicycle to help you keep posture correct.
The following points must be kept in mind, whether cycling indoors on a machine or outdoors.
- Keep the ball and front of your foot placed firmly on the pedals. While you cycle, the force of the movement is generated by the quadriceps, and then transferred through the ball of the foot.
- Keep your back flat to prevent straining the muscles of the mid or lower back.
- Maintain good posture at all times, especially when fatigued. There may be a tendency to hunch over the handlebars when you are tired.
- Ensure that your cycle is the correct size for your height and limb length.
Adjusting your cycle
Adjust the saddle height. At the lowest part of the cycle action your leg should still be slightly bent. If you have to straighten your leg completely, it means the saddle is too high for you and you will put unnecessary strain on your knee joint.
- Ask your partner to cycle 50-m ahead of you, and then try to catch up with him. Now you maintain the lead, and ask your partner to catch up with you.
- When cycling outdoors, plan routes that will involve cycling over hills, as this will vary the intensity of your workout.
- Interval train. Start with a moderate speed for 5 minutes. Increase speed for 5 minutes. And continue this pattern of training.
- You can slowly increase the intensity of your workout by rising out of the saddle and sprinting for a short period. For example: the first 10 minutes you start at a comfortable speed. Then, gradually increase speed for the next 15 minutes. For the last 5 to10 minutes, raise your intensity level to your maximum. Then gradually slow your pace and end with a cool down.
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