For many people, just exercising to be fit and healthy isn’t enough. At some point in time this type of casual exercise program crosses over to a training program. Some people train to reach a certain goal, such as walking or running a certain distance or climbing a mountain. Others want to be competitive. While this information goes beyond the scope of this book, here are some basic training guidelines for those who wish to go beyond casual exercise:
- Take at least one or two days off per week for rest and recovery.
- Once per week, if time allows, do two workouts in one day, preferably one in the morning and one in the evening. Both should be relatively easy, below the maximum aerobic level.
- Once per week, do one longer-than-normal workout.
If after several weeks of building aerobic base your MAF Tests are continuing to show improvement, you may wish to add some anaerobic activity. Many people benefit by performing some anaerobic activity, as long as the aerobic system is well developed first, though for some with a high stress level, maintaining an aerobic schedule throughout the year works well. Anaerobic exercise may include lifting light weights, faster running, jogging, dancing, biking, or anything that raises the heart rate higher than the aerobic maximum. The following factors should be considered when scheduling an anaerobic workout:
- For most, one or two anaerobic workouts per week is sufficient.
- Anaerobic sessions should never be on consecutive days.
- Anaerobic workouts should be preceded by a day off, or a short, easy aerobic day.
- Anaerobic workouts should be followed by a day off, or a short, easy aerobic day.
- An aerobic warm-up and cool-down should surround anaerobic workouts.
- This anaerobic period should last no more than three to five weeks.
Anaerobic exercise is a very common cause of injury, ill health and overtraining. It is also the most common reason so many who exercise have poorly functioning aerobic systems; they are anaerobic during many, if not most, of their exercise sessions. Be cautious when performing anaerobic workouts. Do your MAF Test during anaerobic periods. If you perform too much anaerobic work, you will know it by the results of your MAF Test.
Most people don’t really need to do anaerobic workouts. Their lives have enough stresses that stimulate the neurological, metabolic and muscular systems to satisfy the minimal anaerobic requirements of the body. So don’t be pressured into anaerobic workouts if you’re not absolutely sure you want to.
An important rule is worth mentioning here again: Have fun in your workouts. If your exercise routine has become a stress, then something is wrong. Maybe it’s time to change what you’re doing. Maybe you shouldn’t exercise with the people you’re with. Whatever the case, if exercise isn’t fun, find out why and correct it.
One important and enjoyable function of human performance is the act of making love. Good aerobic function is a key ingredient for a good sex life. But for millions of people, poor sexual function is common. There are many physiological reasons for this, discussed below, and some that may be psychological (which go beyond the scope of this book and are not addressed).
In general, when you’re fit and healthy, you should be physiologically and psychologically interested in sex. Specifically, a healthy aerobic system with good adrenal function (where many sex hormones are produced) plays a role in healthy sexual function.
If we look at the act of making love as a workout, we see a truer picture of what is happening. If one partner is always too tired in the evening, the problem often is aerobic deficiency. This may be caused by eating too many sweets or carbohydrate snacks in the course of the evening, or throughout the day.
Suppose the unresponsive partner isn’t really tired. Perhaps that’s the excuse used because he or she isn’t especially aroused sexually. This aspect of lovemaking is, for the most part, hormonal in nature, and sex hormones are affected by stress. Estrogen, for example, plays important roles, from arousal to lubrication. Testosterone also plays a vital role in sexual desire. Excess stress, a low-fat diet or other factors can reduce these hormones and have a devastating effect.
It is no coincidence that complaints of a lack of interest in sex often coincide with high stress states. In many people, this “sexual deficiency” then contributes even more to the already high stress level, and prevents the person from getting a much-needed stress reduction. Sexual activity can be very therapeutic. In the course of your day and week, all kinds of stress can accumulate. That tension, the increased sympathetic activity often associated with stress, if not balanced, can be harmful. The act of making love, specifically, having an orgasm, can eliminate that tension.
What of the complaint, often heard from women, that “he never lasts long enough?” Among the factors associated with this occurrence is a lack of stamina. This translates to endurance, or the lack of it. The inability to endure sexually is another symptom of aerobic deficiency. Correcting aerobic deficiency often eliminates these complaints.
Another factor associated with the person who “doesn’t last long enough” is that he is usually not sufficiently warmed up. Many people, more often men, choose to make lovemaking a sprint rather than an endurance activity. A slow warm-up of activity is vital to any workout, including lovemaking. In this instance, the warm-up is very important, and can be accomplished with foreplay. Spending enough time warming up will allow the hormonal system to properly evoke the normal, healthy response in both partners. Without a warm-up, you may not be ready to continue effective, enjoyable sexual activity
Cooling down is another aspect of sex too often neglected, just as in exercise; it’s vital to the complete workout. Like warming up, or foreplay, cooling down is essential and should include a slow winding down, with easy, light-touch activity that produces even more feelings of relaxation. Using exercise as a pattern, making love requires the same elements: a slow increase in activity, followed by the peak of the workout, and ending with a cool-down.
There are a variety of dietary and nutritional factors that can help sexual performance. No, there’s no magic pill despite all the ads for such gimmicks. The factors that really work happen to be the same ones that help improve overall aerobic and hormonal function as discussed throughout this book. More importantly, there are a number of factors that can have a negative impact on sexual performance — the same factors that can inhibit aerobic function.
One aspect of sexual performance worth mentioning here is that of fertility. This problem can affect both males and females as potential parents. Women who want to conceive but are unable often suffer from a tremendous amount of stress. The first step for a woman who cannot conceive (after several months of trying) is to be sure that ovulation is taking place, and that intercourse is taking place at the same time as ovulation. This can be done using a kit available from drug stores. If that doesn’t result in success, make sure both partners have been examined and all physical or chemical reasons have been eliminated. If there are clear problems, your doctor will most likely have some recommended therapy. If no clear problems exist, you may be on your own again, unless you are willing to undergo more extreme
hormonal therapy. This type of therapy never made sense to me for two reasons: It’s not very successful; and it’s relatively easy to balance the hormonal status, often resulting in conception. If the more conservative approach fails, one still has the option to try more extreme measures.
The most common cause of infertility I have seen is carbohydrate intolerance, probably by reducing the important sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Alleviating carbohydrate intolerance through dietary changes helps remove stress from the adrenal glands, which can increase DHEA and other sex hormones. Ultimately, this improves fertility, sometimes even in the most stubborn cases. (And sometimes when conception isn’t wanted — so if you’re of child-bearing age doing the Two Week Test — be careful.)
In the case where fertility takes place but maintaining pregnancy is difficult, similar problems may exist. The difference is in the hormones that are most deficient. In many cases of early miscarriage, progesterone is too low. The same dietary factors may be important, but in addition, a natural preparation of progesterone may also be needed.
Sexual function is a normal, natural and healthy aspect of human performance, one that should take place throughout life, not just during youth. Imbalances in the aerobic system or the adrenal glands can adversely affect the sex hormones, resulting in sexual problems. Many common side effects of aerobic or stress-related dysfunction, such as fatigue, poor circulation or depression, can adversely affect sexual performance as well.