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Timing, the essence

It's time to throw out your old exercise programme and get in sync with cyclic exercise, says noted fitness expert PEG JORDAN.


Be in sync ... have a great day.

RESET buttons. They're everywhere. On your computer, your VCR, your latest hand-held digital doodah. Don't you sometimes wish you had one for your body? A reset button that put your back in step with the natural healthy flow of life.

LifeWaves, a revolutionary health and fitness programme based on cyclic exertion and recovery, appears to be an effective tool for resynchronising your body's rhythms to the fundamental organising power of our natural 24-hour biological clock, known as the circadian rhythm.

Did I lose you?

Let's take it a step at a time.

Why is it important to feel "in sync?" First, cast aside any misgivings about having to keep up with the well-known pop-rock boy band, and simply think of "in synch" as feeling rested and energised.

It's that peak performance feeling, when everything's a go. You have the power to think clearly, perform effectively and move vigorously. You digest well, sleep well, and even mate well! You're on top of your game, delivering plenty of those on-the-spot comments that endear friends and impress strangers. Every level, from the grossest to the sublime — every organ, tissue and cell in your being — is having a great day.

So how often are we in sync? Not often enough, and there's plenty of reasons why: modern society, insanely busy schedules, skipped meals, artificial light way into the night, no naps (even though the rest of the world knows the value of a good siesta) all of it reaps havoc on the natural 24-hour circadian rhythm. It throws off your hormonal functioning, immune system, blood pressure, energy levels, fat-storing (yes, wouldn't you know it! You store more fat when your rhythms are off), and makes you feel like you've got a chronic case of jet lag.

Studies on night-shift workers should convince any body with a brain cell left to get some shut-eye before 10 p.m.. Breast cancer rates climb when cycles are off, as well as heart attacks and asthma attacks. Chronobiologists, researchers of the human "clock", found that drugs such as chemotherapy are far more effective when given in synch with circadian rhythms.

So how do we find rhythmically-natural good health in a 24/7 high-tech world? Well, there really seems to be a "reset" button after all, and it's triggered through exercise. But not the kind of sustained, aerobic exercise that has been promoted for the past 30 years. According to Irving Dardik, M.D., an Olympic sports medicine physician and a sort of medical theorist pioneer, that kind of submaximal effort for 30-60 minutes is <243>all wrong for what ails us.

Instead, he has studied the effects of short bursts of exertion (less than one minute) coupled with complete recovery. Performing about six of these cyclic waves a day will resynchronise your body's natural rhythms, leading to a host of benefits. Those benefits are being studied by the likes of Harvard and Columbia researchers who tracked healthy women doing cyclic exercise.

They found improvements in cardiovascular fitness, heart-rate variability, mood, immune system, blood pressure, and something called heart rate variability. That's the measure of change in the heart's beat-to-beat rate, and remains the only common factor associated with healthy individuals in the long-respected Framingham Heart Study. It seems that putting the flexibility back into your heart rate sets up some corresponding rhythmic waves that put flexibility, adaptability, and restorative health back into all your body's systems. How do you do this? The exercise part is so simple, I promise you, you'll want to do it everyday, and I've never put that in print before. You can jump on a bike, treadmill, rebounder, dance or run in place, sprint, rock'nroll, lift weights, just about anything, as long as you start from a baseline heart rate and climb to a given target or stop at the one-minute mark, whichever comes first. The recovery is also unusual for those avid exercisers who think they need to hot-walk their bodies to cool down. Recovery in the LifeWaves programme is all about getting still, sitting and meditating or just chilling out for about two minutes, or however long it takes to get your heart rate down again. If all this seems like a lot of up and down and you're wondering what the real parameters are, LifeWaves has that figured out, too. The company consists of a few heavy-hitters who were giants in former medical technology businesses. They've fashioned together the first talking heart rate recorder, like a polar monitor, only better. It fastens to your chest and not only records your heart rate information, but gives you a step-by-step instruction on what to do. "That's right, Dave. You're doing great, just five more seconds, then you're ready to rest." Doesn't that sound better than having some drill sergeant bark a count of 80 over you?! I want you to try cyclic exercise. I want you to log onto the LifeWaves website: www.lifewaves.com, and discover the joys of restorative fitness. Then I want you to write to me and tell me how you're doing, because I love chatting with people who are thoroughly in synch.

Website: www.megjordan.com

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