Dr W. on Starbucks At The Gym!
By Dr Sven W.,
Burning questions in the morning. Do I stop off and get my java before class? Before my run? Does coffee interfere with exercise performance?
The more appropriate query: does coffee enhance exercise? Caffeine has multiple metabolic effects that include release of free fatty acids, which can be used for energy, and delay of uptake of glycogen by muscle. Both actions may enhance performance in studies of trained athletes. It also has a central brain effect that makes you more alert which in of itself may improve your game. Possible downside is the potential diuretic effect especially, if you take down multiple cups. What a pain to run to the bathroom in middle of that class. Bottom line- take that caffeine infusion before class. I sometimes take a cube of dark chocolate before giving a class. I get the caffeine effect plus some extra glucose.
Brings us to the question of eating before a class. In general there is no reason to snack before a class. You have enough glycogen available for that 45-60 minute exercise period. After that things get tricky. If you are planning two classes back-to-back, or a long two hour run, you may benefit by taking a slice of orange or dried fruit after the first hour. No reason to invest in pricey energy bars. They offer no advantage except for the manufacturer.
Next up is hydration. I recommend hydrating before the class. Water is absorbed pretty quickly from the stomach, and it is better absorbed with big gulps. Do you need power drinks? Not initially. After exercise you will rehydrate better and faster with drinks that have solute. Again, that does not translate into expensive drinks. Juice and milk work fine. Drink ad lib during the class with or without the instructor’s invitation. Falling off the bike or vomiting from dehydration is never a pretty picture.
Ok! I am ready to go. Do I stretch my muscles before exercise? Anybody watch the Olympics in Rio? I noticed that none of the athletes stretch any longer. They may run or do some dynamic exercise to warm up their muscles. Apparently, pre exercise stretching causes muscles to become lax and worsens your performance. Go figure! For years everyone tells you to stretch before you get on that treadmill or take that run. And now they tell you we were wrong. Post exercise stretching is a different story and is probably effective only in your mind. (That is a subject for another session.) However, it may be beneficial in bringing your heart rate down slowly which may prevent dizziness when you suddenly stop exercising. Ever have that feeling when you suddenly jump off the treadmill? You experience a rapid fall in heart rate. That is the point of the cool down. Slow and safe deceleration.
Can I finally get to that class?
One last thing. Ear plugs. Yes, the best ones you can buy. Before that class begins do not be embarrassed to put them in. Instructors have a tendency to blast their music. Mostly, it is an age thing, the younger the louder. The damage it causes over time is profound and irreversible. The list of professional musicians who are significantly impaired is extensive. Do what you can to prevent the noise assault. This is so often overlooked. OSHA should have a footprint in health clubs. What did you say? What?
Next time, let’s talk about maximum predicted heart rate and all that jazz.