Why is it important that you like what you’re doing for your workout?
There are some obvious, and not so obvious answers that question. I highly doubt you will keep anything up that you really deeply dislike ( even though you might think it is good for you) no matter your determination, no matter your discipline, and no matter your willpower. Turns out that is a spot on strategy.
First of all, I think the word “workout” should be changed to “fun-outs”. My goodness! Who wants to work any more than they already have to? 🙂 There’s nothing I love more than having a client crack up while we are working out- then I think I’m doing my job well. I love it even more when someone outside the workout walks up and comments on how loudly we are giggling or ‘don’t we know that workouts are supposed to be hard’. Which makes us laugh more. 🙂
That makes it a “fun-out”.
There’s more to that then I ever imagined.
Serotonin and feeling good
Turns out, when you compliment someone (“good job on those inchworms, Bob!”) not only does your serotonin level increase, but so does theirs. Serotonin, according to WebMD.com, is super important in body chemistry. “Researchers …believe that an imbalance in serotonin levels may influence mood in a way that leads to depression. Possible problems include low brain cell production of serotonin, a lack of receptor sites able to receive the serotonin that is made, inability of serotonin to reach the receptor sites, or a shortage in tryptophan, the chemical from which serotonin is made. If any of these biochemical glitches occur, researchers believe it can lead to depression, as well as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, panic, and even excess anger.”
HRV and exercise
Further, wether or not someone likes the exercise I’ve chosen directly impacts their heart rate variability, or HRV for short. What exactly is that and why is it important?
From the Heartmath.com website comes this definition: “Heart rate variability (HRV), which is at the core of research the Institute of HeartMath conducts, is a measure of the naturally occurring beat-to-beat changes in heart rate/heart rhythms. It serves as a critical method for gauging human health and resiliency. ” interesting. Another definition from ithlete.com states, “Monitoring Heart Rate Variability is so much more valuable than just monitoring heart rate. Heart rate variability (usually known as HRV) is a relatively new method for assessing the effects of stress on your body. It is measured as the time gap between your heart beats that varies as you breathe in and out. Research evidence increasingly links high HRV to good health and a high level of fitness, whilst decreased HRV is linked to stress, fatigue and even burnout.”
Heartmath.com has even more to add, “Numerous studies show HRV is a key indicator of physiological resiliency and behavioral flexibility, and can reflect an ability to adapt effectively to stress and environmental demands. Researchers use HRV, as measured by an electrocardiogram (ECG) or pulse wave recording, to assess the state of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which controls our heart and breath rates, gastrointestinal tract movement and gland secretion among other internal bodily functions. HeartMath has utilized HRV analysis for many years to examine the influence positive and negative emotions have on the ANS.”
Let’s boil this down to the nitty-gritty. Turns out you want your heart beat to have variation, and to have different time gaps between the actual beats. What happens when it doesn’t?
Stress and your HRV
Say I want my client to foam roll his IT Bands. Those are the big bands of primarily fascia that connect the glute to the knee and run on the outside of the upper leg. The are notoriously tight on most everyone. His knee is bugging him, right where the IT band inserts on the tibia, so we could try rolling it to loosen it up. Except~ because it is so tight, it hurts to do so. Really hurts. Hurts so much he doesn’t want to roll them even though he knows it might help. I tell him he needs to, and I have him do it because I used to think that was part of my job. He sighs, and grimaces, holds his breath in anticipation of the pain, and starts rolling. What happens?
The severe dislike causes a stress response. His HRV drops and becomes evenly spaced. Not good. Now cortisol is released into the blood stream. He is in fight or flight mode.
Therefore, is the net effect of the exercise beneficial? I have elicited a cortisol response. Should I have made him roll?
I think not.
Here’s the role cortisol plays according to Psychologytoday.com: ” Cortisol is released in response to fear or stress by the adrenal glands as part of the fight-or-flight mechanism. The fight-or-flight mechanism is part of the general adaptation syndrome defined in 1936 by Canadian biochemist Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal. He pubished his revolutionary findings in a simple seventy-four line article in Nature, in which he defined two types of “stress”: eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress).
Both eustress and distress release cortisol as part of the general adaption syndrome. Once the alarm to release cortisol has sounded, your body becomes mobilized and ready for action—but there has to be a physical release of fight or flight. Otherwise, cortisol levels build up in the blood which wreaks havoc on your mind and body.”
However, it is hard for the normal person on a daily basis to monitor blood plasma cortisol levels and adrenal function. Fortunately, technology has made it possible to easily monitor HRV. The Polar heart rate FT80 monitor comes with a watch and you can have good information in about three minutes on your current physical status. Are you drained from yesterday’s workout? Primed to go hard? Feeling a bit under the weather? Let your HRV be your guide. There are apps for your phone, and I look forward to trying several.
High on my list are:
bioforcehrv.com to name a few.
Anybody have a favorite? Please comment below, and I will report back on my findings in a few weeks!