One thing I've noticed in the gym is that music is the star of the show! Either the gym is playing music on the speakers, or individuals have headphones when they're working out, or there is a group fitness class where everybody is sweating with music blasting!
So, what's the big deal with music and exercise?
There have been NUMEROUS studies done since the 1950s on the effects of music and general exercise, music and strength, and music and endurance. In all of those studies, the general consensus is that music does play a role in enhancing exercise performance. Now HOW does music make your exercise performance better? Maybe it has something to do with endorphins and epinephrine.
Have you noticed that whenever you exercise to good, loud music, you're able to withstand the burning sensation a lot better? Have you also noticed that you don't get fatigue for long or that you could recover rather quickly? Thank your endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that reduce your sensation of pain. The word "endorphin" is actually a compound word from endogenous (Greek for "proceeding from within") and Morpheus (Greek god of sleep/dreams). Morpheus is also where we get the word "morphine," which is a drug that either reduces your sensation of pain or reduces your perception of pain (that is, you still feel the pain but don't care much about it). Endorphins, thus, are your naturally occurring morphine shots!
The more endorphins you produce, the less you care about the pain.
Well...ignoring the pain is actually the biggest downfall to having so many endorphins in your blood stream. Why is it that people who are sick, nauseous, or recovering from surgery still participate in intense exercises? Because the endorphins help them ignore it. This is why people find themselves puking on the floor, passing out, or sustaining a major injury from exercises. When your perception of pain is blurry, then you could easily get into trouble.
One time, I was team-teaching a BodyPump class with an experienced instructor. I was new and still learning the ropes. When I've team-taught with her, I thought to challenge myself on the squat track. I knew it was a risk to lift more weight than I was used to, but I took the risk anyway.
You see, BodyPump is not about lifting heavy weight for 8 seconds and putting the thing down. You lift lighter weight for five or so minutes, and sometimes without a break! That weight starts feeling like a TANK! So, you especially need to choose your weight wisely, or else you'll end up like I did: sick!
After I've taught that squat track, I've used up most of my energy! And I had SEVEN more working tracks to go! After that squat track, I've felt so nauseous that I wanted to throw up. I could have excused myself and puked in the bathroom. But no! I had to finish this class. Thankfully, I only taught two tracks, but I was on stage with the other instructor, working out hard! The grace of God got me through that class. But later that night, I thought I was going into shock: my heart rate was still elevated and I didn't feel right. I became sick. My wife was worried about me!
Why did I do this to myself? Why didn't I just get off the stage? The endorphins wouldn't allow me! Yes, I did feel nauseous the entire time on stage, but the endorphins reduced my perception of how much in trouble I was until after class.
Good ol' endorphins!
When the music is up, your perception of pain goes out the window. You push through the pain and you're determined to finish the class, no matter how much you want to past out!
Another chemical in our bodies that makes exercising easier is epinephrine, which is a stress hormone that's produced in the adrenal glands located on top of the kidneys. Epinephrine is another compound word coming from epi (Greek for "on" or "upon") and nephros (Greek for kidney).
Epinephrine is a POWERFUL hormone with several aspects that promote exercise performance:
So, let's say that you're going for a jog and listening to no music. It has only been five minutes and you're already tired! But then a car goes by that's blasting some rock or hip hop, and man, you find yourself nearly running! But then the music fades away and you have to stop because all that running depleted your energy.
The next time you go for a jog, you decided to bring headphones and an iPod with you. You got your favorite music going. Before you know it, you just ran 2 miles in 20 minutes! That's the power of epinephrine! Not only did the endorphins reduced your perception of pain, but the epinephrine gave you more energy and power to finish your course quickly.
Whenever I take another instructor's class and the music is too low, I find myself struggling! Why is lifting this weight so hard? Why can't I get into these dance moves? Why can't I kick or punch harder? But when the instructor realizes that the music is too low, that person would turn it up, and man, I'm energized! The music helped me produce more endorphins and epinephrine, which makes me work harder.
Ever noticed that you were able to do certain exercise moves easily when you're motivated by certain music? You're able to jump higher, run faster, lift more weight? The epinephrine is helping your body break down sugar and fat for energy, and making your muscles stronger. You may have found yourself the next day SUPER sore and popping ibuprofen like candy because you pushed yourself harder than you're used to doing.
One of the biggest downfalls of epinephrine is that you could wind up hurting yourself because you could push yourself beyond your muscle's naturally capacity. That is, you do things your muscles aren't ready for.
For example, you're overweight and the only squats you do is when you sit down on a chair. You go to a high-intense cardio class and find yourself jumping all over the place like a cricket! You went from simply sitting on a chair to leaping buildings in one class! Your muscles weren't ready for that! But that music got you so pumped that you thought you were a superhero -- and the next day, you're lying in bed as if you got hit with kryptonite!
Another big downfall of too much epinephrine is that you could deplete much of your sugar so that you'd find yourself HUNGRY! You're ready to tear up that refrigerator when you get home! You could wind up putting back all the calories that you've spent one hour burning. Besides getting hungry, depleting all that sugar could make you feel lightheaded after class, which is why eating something after an INTENSE class is important.
However, despite the downfalls of endorphins and epinephrine, the biggest PLUS is that these two chemicals encourage you to do what you didn't think you could do. You produce these chemicals at high levels when you're exercising to good music. If the music is low or boring, you think too much about the pain you're in and you leave class. But if the music is uplifting, you produce more endorphins and epinephrine, which would allow you to push hard and finish class with a bang!
So, let's say that you're trying to lose weight. You join a gym that offers numerous group fitness classes. Since you're so determined to lose weight, you're going to go HARD! On Monday, you're going to start with a 6 am cycling class, then run on the treadmill for 30 minutes before showering for work.
At 5 pm, you leave work and rush to the gym to prepare for a 5:30 pm kickboxing class. After an hour of high-intense cardio, you're going to stay for a 6:35 pm strength conditioning class. And after an hour of pumping those weights, you're going to hit the treadmill for 20 minutes before heading home.
Then Tuesday, you pretty much do the same thing: two to three classes PLUS 20 to 30 minutes of personal exercise time of jogging on the treadmill, lifting dumbbells, or hitting the exercise machines.
Then Wednesday comes, and even though you don't feel your best, you're going to keep going hard! Three group fitness classes PLUS personal exercise time. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday comes and you continue this fitness routine. On Sunday, you have NO energy to hit the gym, so you'd spend that day resting.
After three months of doing this routine, you notice that you're not getting any more results.
You're more tired, you're getting weaker, and classes are becoming harder and harder. Then one morning after you wake up, you head to the bathroom to pee -- and you noticed that your pee is BROWN!
Whoa, that's freaky!
But maybe it's a fluke, a one-time thing. Nope, it's not! All throughout the day, it's like you're peeing out Pepsi!
Then you start getting sick, weaker, nauseated, and experiencing pain all over your body. Being scared, you head over to your doctor who diagnosed you with rhabdomyolysis.
Rhabdomyolysis (which literally means "striped muscle break-down") is a condition where your skeletal muscles (biceps, triceps, abs, etc.) are damaged to the point where your body is becoming toxic. This condition might even be considered an athlete's disease because athletes (or any avid exercisers) are the ones who are probably MOST at risk for this disease.
To understand rhabdomyolysis, you need to understand micro trauma (or micro tears) of your muscle fibers. Whenever you work your muscles, such as with lifting weights, you develop micro trauma to your muscle fibers. Think of these micro tears as actual cuts in the muscle fibers. When your fibers are cut, they bleed out fluid, and this fluid contains a protein called myoglobin. This protein binds onto oxygen and iron, both of which help the muscles be properly oxygenated. This myoglobin also gives the muscles their red color due to the high oxygen level it holds.
Now, micro tears aren't all that bad. It's actually to be expected whenever you work out hard. These small tears will heal and make the muscle fibers stronger!
However, if these micro tears don't heal and if they become BIGGER, then that muscle fiber (or muscle cell) will leak out a LOT of myoglobin. The muscle fiber would also be filled up with blood and other fluids and pretty much explode! Okay, you won't hear a big BOOM, but that cell will die.
If much of your muscle fibers throughout the body is severely damaged, they would all leak out myoglobin, which becomes toxic to the kidneys when the levels are too high. When all this myoglobin gathers in the kidneys, then the urine becomes brown. When you hit the bathroom, it would look like you're peeing blood.
Now remember that myoglobin binds onto oxygen AND iron. So, too much iron build-up will poison your body. All this iron could get trapped in the liver, shutting it down and making you jaundice. All this iron would also get pushed in your kidneys and shut them down. If the kidneys can't work, then other toxins in your body builds up to the point where you could die unless you get dialysis.
You see why we fitness trainers stress the importance of rest and recovery?
Working your body hard is not the problem. The problem is when you don't take adequate rest time. Let's say that you did work out HARD for two hours. Okay, no problem. If you give yourself at least 48 hours to rest, properly hydrate yourself, and eat to nourish your body, then you should be fully recovered with no problems.
Now, let's say that you've worked out HARD for two hours and don't properly hydrate yourself, then the myoglobin that's released in the body cannot easily be filtered out by the kidneys. And if you're not eating properly, your muscles cannot fully heal, and if they cannot fully heal, then they would very likely be destroyed if you don't rest.
So, how would you know if you're leading up to rhabdomyolysis? You may experience the following signs and symptoms:
If you start experiencing these signs and symptoms, I'd strongly advise you to stop all your exercise activity and rest. You might need to rest for a week or longer. Of course, you could always see your primary healthcare provider for medical advice.
Listen, I understand you want to strip all that fat away or get ripped. But you need to take care of your body first! You cannot rush results by killing yourself in the gym. Losing weight is not worth poisoning your body with excessive exercises. Getting ripped abs and bulging biceps aren't worth the hospital bill.
You've no doubt heard that you ought to "take the road that's less traveled and leave a path behind." That is, don't do what everybody else is doing. Do something that no one has done before and show the world that anybody else could do the same.
While living in New York City, I used to travel through the Bronx by driving on I-87 (also called "The Major Deegan") to get to my EMS job in Yonkers, New York. Well, sometimes the Major Deegan would be congested with traffic because people use that highway to get to the George Washington Bridge. If you got caught in that traffic, you would have to sit there for about 15 or so minutes until you past the George Washington Bridge exit, and when you do, the traffic would resume to normal.
Being tired of always getting suck in this traffic, I thought to explore an alternative way. The alternative was actually a service road that ran parallel to the Major Deegan, and surprisingly, that service road would be nearly empty! It was amazing how many people DID NOT drive on that road. I mean, the road was RIGHT THERE beside the highway and it was very easy to get to. But, everybody decided to drive on the Major Deegan instead.
Once I get on that service road, I would be breezing by all the bumper-to-bumper traffic just tickled! All these folks are just wasting their time taking the easy route while I was cruising by on the service road. I truly cut out about 15 minutes of wait time by taking the service road. Plus, I had no stress about being late for work -- which I usually was.
I truly did take the road less traveled. Literally! That road was less traveled in comparison to the traffic on the highway.
I think about life and how we often times DON'T take the road less traveled because we're too comfortable taking the road that everybody travels on!
The biggest danger in always going with the "flow of traffic" is that you don't know what your options are. You do only what you know works. If anybody would come to you presenting a different way, you'd get suspicious and question that person.
For instance, homeschooling is a relatively new concept -- even though our ancient ancestors did it! Since the 1920s, public school attendance became mandatory until the age of 16. However, it wasn't until the 1970s and 1980s when more and more parents started to pull their kids out of schools to educate them at home. But the government wasn't comfortable with the idea that parents were educating their own children at home. These parents were taking a road less traveled on -- and it was good that they did! Currently, homeschool education is legal in all 50 states. Now, parents have the freedom to choose their children's education format, be it in an institutional setting or a home setting.
Entrepreneurship is a relatively new concept -- even though, once again, our ancient ancestors were entrepreneurs. During the U.S. Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, working for factories and warehouses became the thing to do. Then labor laws came out to support the well-being of these workers: no child labor, no working in dangerous conditions, no working 100 hours a week, getting paid for working over time, labor unions to protect worker's rights, etc. From that period onward, being an employee was the thing to do. Everybody felt comfortable doing it. But working for yourself was a road less traveled on. Now, there are millions of entrepreneurs, and many of them are millionaires who started with no money!
So many innovations started when someone decided to take a road less traveled. Everything from flying in the air, making money online, working from home, and even growing your own food (even though our ancestors have done it!). But that's pretty much the definition of innovation: doing something that nobody else thought was possible!
You see, there are MANY unseen opportunities in this world because we rather do what's comfortable than what's uncomfortable. We'd rather do what has always been done, to do what other people are doing, and to simply "go with the flow."
However, when we do what everybody else does, then we would see no progression in our personal lives. We would remain where we are, doing the same thing as we have always done, and in 10 years, we will STILL be in the same boat.
So, if you are unhappy where you are, then consider taking an alternative road. Look at other ways to get what you desire rather than do things the way other people do them. Look for opportunities that other people don't see, and when you succeed, leave a trail behind so that other people could know that it can be done.
Someone would challenge you, making you think that your ideas are crazy, that you ought to play it safe in life. But when that person challenges you, look at that person and ask yourself if this person is happy where he or she is in life. People who challenge you are the same ones who haven't accomplished everything they've wanted in life.
Next time you decide to take the same road to work (or to wherever you're going), try a different route.
Ever heard that "age is just a number?" Well, the same rule applies to calories: they are just numbers -- deceptive numbers.
You see, it takes calories to burn calories. That is, that low-fat yogurt may only have 50 calories, but you might burn 10 calories digesting that yogurt. And if you drank any water to wash that yogurt down, your body would use more calories to digest both the water and yogurt.
So of the 50 calories that you've consumed, you may have only gotten 30 calories from it -- or less. This is why low-calorie snacks would leave you hungry later on!
Well, let's make the meal bigger. Let's say you've eaten a hamburger -- a home-made hamburger. One burger patty has about 240 calories, and when you include the bread, you could consume nearly 500 calories. Ouch! However, the fat and protein content of that burger requires lots of calories to break down. Your body might end up using 50 calories or more just to digest that burger.
The key is in the digestion. Your digestion makes up a good portion of your metabolic rate. That is, by simply eating food you could burn calories.
Think about this. When you chew, you are using your jaw muscles, which are POWERFUL and they require calories to work. Then when you swallow, your tongue and esophagus are at work to push the food to the stomach. Then stomach creates acid to further break down the food. Once the food is broken down, the stomach pushes the food into the small intestine. The small intestine pushes the food for about 20 feet until it gets pushed through the large intestine. The large intestine pushes the food to the rectum where you start burning calories trying to poop it out!
Whew! That's a lot of work -- and a LOT of calories that the digestion system used to process all that food. So if you only ate a hamburger and washed it down with water, it could take your body about 500 or more calories to process that food and it all starts with your mouth. You barely got ANY calories from that one burger!
HOWEVER, let's say that you ate a small bag of gummy worms -- which has about 770 calories! Gummy worms are simply sugar with some thickening agents. It doesn't take your body much work to digest that sugar. Barely any of it would make it to the large intestines because the candy would simply dissolve in the stomach and get absorbed in the small intestines.
This is why you're likely to get fat from candy than from a hamburger. It takes lots of calories to digest a hamburger, but barely any calories to digest candy.
A normal size apple may only have 50 calories, but if you also eat the skin, then your body has to work harder to break down that skin. The skin is mostly fiber, which the body cannot digest. However, the body still processes the fiber in other ways, such as using it to clean up your intestines. But because of the fiber content, you use up more calories to digest an apple than you would if you peeled the skin off.
So of the 50 calories that is in an apple, you've probably used just as many calories IF NOT MORE to digest the apple with the skin.
Beans and rice have a considerable amount of calories, but they are also HIGH in fiber and protein. This means a lot of work for the body to digest this food. Almonds are HIGH in calories (just 1/4 cup could have almost 200 calories), but the high protein, fat, and fiber content require a load of calories from the body to digest.
When you look at the number of calories on your food, those are just the calories you start with. As your body digest this food, the calories would decrease. If you've started out with 300 calories, your body may only get HALF of those calories or less because of the digestion process.
Now, let me admit that I'm just throwing out number estimates. There is no way to truly measure how many calories you could burn when digesting a food. Some of you may come up with higher or lower estimates of how many calories you burn when digesting food.
However, you could get a strong idea of how much energy your body uses when digesting food by seeing:
When your body digests food, it creates heat called diet-induced thermogenesis. There are plenty of machines where you could measure heat in the body. If you ate a big meal and I've scanned your belly area, I should see reds, oranges, and yellows, colors that show different degrees of heat. The more heat your body produces, the more energy the body uses -- energy that comes from calories. That is, the hotter your belly gets, the more calories the body is using to digest your food.
Feeling fatigue after a big meal? That means that your body is using TOO MUCH energy to digest your food. This explains why you're always getting tired after lunch. You tend to eat too much food or too much protein during lunch. Protein is a hard nutrient to break down, requiring lots of energy from the body.
Then there's the type of foods you're eating. If you're eating a ton of meat, then your body requires a ton of energy to break down due to the high protein content.
Next time you eat a big meal, don't freak out about getting fat. However, do freak out when you gorge on sweets. Yes, the sweets will make you fat if you go crazy with it. Simple sugar foods are high in calories and it takes the body very few calories to digest them.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.