Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Self-selected intensity

A few weeks ago, Craig Ballantyne did a fat loss call that cited the following research study on anxiety.  While I found it interesting and encouraging that exercise decreased anxiety in all three groups tested in  the study,  what really jumped up and danced on the table for me was the finding that subjective well being only increased in the groups that exercised at self selected intensity.   
     Ever since I started pursuing my physical transformation over two and a half years ago, I have been asking myself this question, "What do I truly want to get out of changing my body?".  As you can tell from the title of my blog, I was convinced that what I wanted was more beauty.  Beauty on the outside in the sense of a fit and appealing form and beauty on the inside in the sense of loving kindness, compassion, happiness, and boundless energy, but beauty seemed to sum it up nicely.  Over the past two years though, after winning TT Transformation Contest 2, I started wondering if there was something even deeper that I was pursuing, along with all the other people who were on the same road with me.  Quite frankly there are a lot of women, and men obviously, who are looking to do more than, "Get their pretty on", as my sister likes to say.  Just recently, while thinking about  the whole beauty issue, I did some research on a painting I've always loved, "La Source" by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres.  I remember being simply floored by this painting when I first saw it years ago.  The subject is so calm, at ease in her body, and so completely lovely.  Add to that the fact that you can practically feel the water running through your own fingers it looks so real, and this painting creates an unforgettable visceral experience.  I always thought it moved me so much because the subject, "La Source" (which translates as , "The Spring" in English, with all of the extra connotations that the word spring adds,youth, growth, renewal) is so beautiful.  Then I read a comment, unfortunately the author wasn't listed, that cited the sense of "Perfect physical well-being" that this figure possesses.  "That's it!" I thought.  That's what I've been after all along.  It's the very same thing I see when I look at Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa".  It's not the mystery of her smile, it's her sense of perfect physical and emotional well being that makes her so compelling.
     Now do you see why the phrase, "Only cycling at self selected intensity enhanced positive well being" jumped up and bit me on the nose?  Eureka!  To enhance positive well being, the holy grail of my transformation quest, self selected intensity is best.  Which when I put it simply means that you only work as hard as you choose to.  No pain.  All gain.  Am I making too big of a leap with this?  We'll see on November 9th.
‎Br J Sports Med. 2008 Nov 19. State anxiety and subjective well-being responses to acute bouts of aerobic exercise in patients with depressive and anxiety disorders.
Aerobic exercise is associated with a reduction in state anxiety and an improvement in subjective well-being.
Researchers from Belgium studied 19 males and 29 females after 3 workouts.
20 minutes at self-selected intensity without HR feedback
20 minutes at self-selected intensity with HR feedback
20 minutes at the prescribed intensity of 50% of max HR
State anxiety and subjective well-being were evaluated using the State Anxiety Inventory and the Subjective Exercise Experiences Scale.
After 20 minutes cycling, patients showed significantly decreased state anxiety and negative affect in the three conditions – same in all conditions.
Only cycling at self-selected intensity enhanced positive well-being.
Depress Anxiety. 2008 Aug 26;25(8):689-699. Reducing anxiety sensitivity with exercise.
Researchers from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas tested the belief that exercise helps in the treatment of anxiety. 60 people (suffereing from anxiety) were randomly assigned to
a 2-week exercise intervention
a 2-week exercise plus cognitive restructuring intervention
or a control condition.
Exercise led to better improvements in anxiety than control, but there were no added benefits of cognitive intervention.
Bottom Line: Going out and exercising at a nice pace makes you feel better. Two thumbs up for that!
Of course, serious issues should be brought up with a medical doctor.

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