What are the Benefits of Indoor Cycling?

According to the U.S. Department of Health ".....regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk of coronary disease, stroke, colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.....and helps to control weight, contributes to healthy bones, muscles and joints... reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression..." Need we go on? Cycling is also "low-impact" without the joint stress that you get from "ground-pounding" sports and activities. All good reasons to strap-in/clip-on and RYDE!

 

 

Unleashing Your Super Athlete – What do your teeth have to do with it?

What if I told you there was a performance enhancing product for non-contact sports that could make you stronger and quicker, give you greater endurance, help you recover faster and reduce the effects of physical and mental stress on your body? Would you believe this magical product was legal?UnderArmorMouthpiece

According to many athletes and a few researchers, the competitive edge you’re looking for may be in the power of your bite. The use of mouthpieces (like Under Armour’s Performance Mouthwear™) for performance enhancement has been a controvertible topic since the 1970’s. Early research on their effectiveness was at best mixed, though the results of more recent studies look promising. Their findings suggest that mouthpieces may help improve your fitness, citing that greater oxygen intake and decreased levels of cortisol can help improve endurance, strength and recovery in situations of physical and even psychological stress.

Here’s how it works. Brace yourself for an extended car metaphor.

Breathe

What do RydeOn! Instructors always say during a difficult sprint? “Remember to breathe!” The movement of your body during exercise causes your muscles to work and in order to move, just like a car, they need fuel. Oxygen is your body’s fuel of choice. When oxygen is powering the movement of your muscles, it’s like filling your car with premium gas. Aerobic (with oxygen) energy production turns your body into a lean, fat burning machine, efficiently breaking down glucose for energy. As long as your muscles get sufficient oxygen, they can continue to function, allowing you to build strength and aerobic capacity.

However, during intense exercise your muscles are burning fuel faster than it can be provided. When your muscles can’t get enough oxygen to sustain their movement through aerobic energy production, your body generates lactate and your muscles begin producing energy anaerobically (without oxygen). Lactate is the fuel of anaerobic energy production. In the absence of sufficient oxygen, it allows glucose to continue to break down, providing the energy needed by your muscles to continue exercising. However, anaerobic energy production is a very inefficient system designed only for short term, emergency use. Lactic acid builds up in the body and causes muscle fatigue, which in turn encourages you to stop working, reducing your energy needs and allowing your body time to recover. It’s a downward spiral. When your muscles use lactate instead of oxygen for energy production, it’s like putting low octane gas in your car while driving on a spare tire. You don’t get very far, and the distance you do travel is pretty rough.

How do your teeth fit into this picture? Here it comes! When mammals undergo physical or psychological stress, our innate flight or flight response causes us to clench our teeth. One of the advantages of a mouthpiece is that it prevents clenching by comfortably propping your mouth open a little, encouraging breathing during exercise, increasing the amount of oxygen going to your muscles. Mouth breathing gets a lot of oxygen into your body very quickly. You’re able to work harder for longer periods, and improve your aerobic capacity. All of a sudden you’re spiraling up instead of down as the engine of improved lung capacity really starts to work for you. If your body can utilize more oxygen and continue aerobic energy production, it reduces the need for anaerobic energy production, which results in lower levels of lactic acid, allowing you to exercise for longer periods and build lung capacity. Also, your muscles develop an increased tolerance to lactic acid, which allows you to continue to build strength and burn fat. Improving your aerobic capacity turns your body into a better fat burning machine. Returning to our car metaphor, it’s like upgrading your body from a 1978 Datsun to a 2013 Prius.

Will a mouthpiece turn a couch potato into an Olympic contender? Probably not. But it may help you achieve your goals more quickly on your journey toward better fitness. Some mouthpieces offer a home fitting method, however custom fit mouthpieces provided by a dentist may offer more comfortable and durable results. Contact RydeOn! family member Dr. Sheryl Pomerance, (734) 429-7460 to learn more about custom fit mouthpieces.

References

  1. Garner DP, Dudgeon W, McDivitt E. The Effects Of Mouthpiece Use On Cortisol Levels During An Intense Bout Of Resistance Exercise. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 25(10):2866-2871, 2011.
  2. Barrett S. A Skeptical Look at Under Armour Mouth Guards. Dental Watch Web Site. Posted May 3, 2010.
  3. Roth, S. Why does lactic acid build up in muscles? And why does it cause soreness? Scientific American Web Site. Posted January 23, 2006.
  4. Burke, E. Every Cyclist's Enemy: Exploring Lactic Acid. Active.com Web Site. Posted August 13, 2009.

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