Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Ratchet up your exercise intensity

Note:  I am not a medical doctor and am not giving you medical advice so please read the following with this understanding and consult with your medical doctor before beginning any heavy weightlifting and/or high-intensity cardiovascular training exercise program.

An M.D. once scolded me for using the term “anecdotal evidence” to describe my sample-of-one experiments over the years using me as the one.  He said there’s no evidence in something that’s anecdotal or something to that effect.

Our cyberspace friends at Wikipedia have this to say about anecdotal evidence: "The expression anectodal evidence refers to evidence from anecdotes.  In cases where small numbers of anecdotes are presented, there is a larger chance that they may unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases." 

Well this is true and from my M.D. scolding, I’ll now sometimes use the term “anecdotal experience” to describe what I’ve learned about myself from various fitness training and nutrition experiments conducted over the years.

Last Friday there were several health-related news articles floating around the internet about blood pressure and how federal government researchers are urging older adults to aim for much lower blood pressure than previously recommended.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-third or 70 million adults in America have high blood pressure.  That’s not good because high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death for middle-aged men like you and me.

I’ve kept a log of my blood pressure for over 12 years now and have previously shared my readings here at Pierini Fitness.  What I’ve learned is that my blood pressure, while always considered normal per above, has improved over these years even though I now weigh more than when earlier readings were taken.

Last Friday, for example, about two hours after a short but intense 15-minute kettlebell workout, I decided to measure my blood pressure to see if there were any unexpected surprises.    

All readings are expressed in mmHG (the mmHG is millimeters of mercury – the units used to measure blood pressure) which is how we do it in America for my readers from abroad.

I always take my blood pressure three times within a few minutes of each other just to rule out anything odd about a single reading.  Here were my blood pressure readings from last Friday:

#1 = 109/74 – pulse of 62 beats per minute

#2 = 113/71 – pulse of 67 beats per minute

#3 = 101/71 – pulse of 64 beats per minute

The heart rate pulses were a little higher than normal and that was probably due to the hard workout I completed about two hours earlier – nothing to be concerned about with these numbers; I’m merely sharing.  Contrast these numbers with yesterday morning when my awakening resting pulse was 52 beats per minute.

In general, these numbers are better than years ago when I weighed less and did different workouts including longer-duration running.    There’s nothing especially different about how I eat – now versus then – to account for these differences.  My diet isn’t low-sodium or anything else considered blood pressure-friendly.

So what might be the difference?

Maybe being a little older and more relaxed about who I am is a possibility but I really think better explanations are the heavier barbell weightlifting and shorter-duration and higher-intensity anaerobic cardiovascular training I’ve done over my recent training past. 

There’s a third possible explanation and that’s I’ve become better at relaxing when taking my blood pressure.  Maybe that’s cheating because the life I live may not be as relaxed as it is when I take my blood pressure. 

In any event, I will favor the first two explanations.  So, therefore, my anecdotal evidence is that heavier barbell weightlifting and higher-intensity and shorter-duration anaerobic cardiovascular conditioning workouts as my anecdotal evidence for improved blood pressure.

For those of you who avoid the heavy iron, let’s consider isometric exercises done with maximum intensity as a close-cousin alternative to heavier-barbell weightlifting.

So my message to all middle-aged men of the world who are concerned about their blood pressure is to consult with your M.D. first and then ratchet up your exercise intensity.

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum

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