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Fitness 101: Get Fast, Have Fun With a Fartlek: Energy Express

Don't hold your nose when someone asks you if you've heard of a fartlek. It's the Swedish word for "speed play" and it's a simple, effective training technique you should know about if you want to condition your body to run faster, walk longer or swim farther.

Fartlek training -- also known as interval training -- can be adapted to any aerobic activity. Here's a brief description of how it works

By Marilynn Preston

Don't hold your nose when someone asks you if you've heard of a fartlek. It's the Swedish word for "speed play" and it's a simple, effective training technique you should know about if you want to condition your body to run faster, walk longer or swim farther.

Fartlek training -- also known as interval training -- can be adapted to any aerobic activity. Here's a brief description of how it works. Let's say you're a runner and you want to improve your speed. No problem. Make your next run a training run and begin with a good five to 10-minute warm-up -- jogging at a relaxed pace -- a safe and proven way to wake up your muscles and juice your joints.

Once you've got a little glow going, think fartlek. Look ahead, down the running path, and choose two visible points with some distance in between. It could be two trees 50 yards apart, or two telephone poles, whatever looks good to you. Then, shift into a higher gear -- physically and mentally -- and run as quickly as you can between the two points. When you reach your goal, relax your pace, recover your breath, and repeat the pattern in a random fashion a few more times. You can achieve the same great training effect by deciding to sprint for an interval of time instead of distance. Play with the distances and the times, accelerating your speed from one to five minutes, and make sure you are hearing your breath, not holding it.

Fartlek training isn't just for competitive athletes. It's for anyone who wants to prevent boredom and burnout and improve performance. It's also an excellent training tool to try with a friend. You initiate the first acceleration, and he initiates the second, and so it goes, until your body tells you it's time to cool down and you do, feeling refreshed, renewed and ready to run just a little faster next time out.

BEING TREATED FOR CANCER? EXERCISE CAN HELP!

Being fit is no guarantee you can outrun cancer. We all know people who were in great shape before they were challenged with lung cancer, breast cancer, or colon cancer, to name just a few of the 1.3 million new cases of cancer diagnosed last year. And yet, if you want to significantly reduce your risk of getting many kinds of cancer, not to mention heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, it's smart to exercise early and often, at least three or four times a week.

What if you have cancer already? Can exercise help you cope with the notorious side effects of radiation and chemo, the fatigue, the nausea, the weight gain or loss? New research says yes.

"Exercise can reduce recovery time and help patients feel better as they deal with the side effects of cancer treatment," says nursing professor Vicki Conn, part of a team of researchers at the University of Missouri's Sinclair School of Nursing.

Cancer symptoms, such as pain, nausea and vomiting, were all eased by exercise, the study showed, and exercise helped survivors control their percentage of body fat, too. None of this is surprising, but it sure bears repeating: Exercise boosts your strength, your confidence and helps you heal, body and mind.

"All patients should speak with their doctors before implementing any exercise regimen with cancer treatment," Conn advises. If your doctor isn't up to date on this latest research, published in the July issue of "Supportive Care in Cancer," my advice is to find one who is.

EN/X E-MAILBAG: PLAYGROUNDS ARE FOR CHILDREN!
J.M.M, who signed her e-mail "Protective Mom," didn't appreciate my recent suggestion that adults should allow their inner child to play in playgrounds:

"Nothing is more creepy than a man doing chin-ups or pushups in a playground. In Manhattan, it is against the law to be in a playground without being accompanied by a minor Ö Just last week, local police arrested what they believed to be a child predator in Hoboken. He was always doing pushups in the middle of the playground and chatting up a 5-year-old girl. Playgrounds ARE for children."

ENERGY EXPRESS-O! GO FLY A KITE
Flying a kite can be a great workout. Run with the wind! Resist with your arms! The bigger the kite, the better the challenge. And as far as I know, adult kite-flying is not illegal in Manhattan.

Marilynn Preston -- fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues -- is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com.
COPYRIGHT 2006 ENERGY EXPRESS, LTD.
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.


Categories: Health & Wellness, Women's Health,


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