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Running a marathon - the best way to get fit?

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Introduction

Running a marathon - the best way to get fit? What can exercise do for me? Exercise does more then reduce weight, it can improve both our health and fitness, and should involve using as much of the body as possible. Exercise has two main benefits: * Short term these are the effects that happen during the activity itself and also contribute to the long term benefits e.g. the heart rate will increase, which will increase the flow and pressure of the blood. * Long term these are the lasting effects which occur and include the following: o Heart becomes bigger, stronger and capable of pumping more blood. o Lungs get more oxygen to the muscles. o Blood volume increases, therefore more oxygen can be carried. o Muscles increase in size and strength, this is called muscle hypertrophy. The muscle energy stores are also improved. This allows the muscle to work harder and longer. ...read more.

Middle

Most people will tend to have a balance of about 50% of these two types of fibres in their muscle. Experiments have shown that long distance runners tend to have a higher percentage of slow twitch fibres (74%) in their calf muscles. One of the main limiting factors to how fast you can run is the amount of oxygen you can get to your muscles. Oxygen is needed for your muscle cells to release energy. The maximum amount of oxygen you can take in and process is known as your VO2 max. The VO2 max of marathoners is 45% higher than an untrained person. But this advantage is largely genetic and research has shown that training only increases VO2 max by 10-20%. What makes so many Kalenjin runners win marathons? As the Kalenjin runners live 7000ft above see level, their genes have adapted for them to be able to live at high altitude, as oxygen levels in the atmosphere begin to fall. ...read more.

Conclusion

With no glycogen left in their muscles, they have to get the energy to continue running from their body fat. But converting fat into energy is much less efficient than converting glycogen to energy - it requires more oxygen and takes twice as long, slowing a marathoner down to walking pace or even stopping them completely. To overcome this problem you need to put your body into a similar situation a few times before the race, i.e. do a couple of 20 mile runs. Endurance training leads to changes in your body's metabolism so that you become more efficient at using stored energy as well as encouraging your muscles to store more glycogen. Before running a race it is always best to seek medical advice and professional help when it comes to training as this will help to minimise any problems which may occur. Marathons are a great way of raising money for charities, making new friend and training towards a healthier life style. Word count 1025 ?? ?? ?? ?? Ynez Symonds ...read more.

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