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Alternate Sports or Do Both at the Same Time?

Fitness refers to your heart, and the harder you exercise, the fitter you become. But every time you exercise vigorously, your muscles are injured, and the harder you exercise, the longer it takes for your muscles to heal. Muscle biopsies done on the day after a person exercises vigorously show bleeding into the muscles and disruption of the Z bands that hold muscle filaments together. You are not supposed to exercise vigorously again until the muscle soreness disappears. Most athletes set up training programs so they exercise vigorously enough on one day to make their muscles feel sore for the next two or three days and then after the soreness disappears, they exercise vigorously again.

You can use the same principle in your training program to achieve a higher level of fitness. You can exercise vigorously on one day and easy on the next few days or until he soreness disappears, or you can train in two sports. This is called cross training, and it can make you very fit and help to prevent injuries. Each sport stresses specific muscle groups. Cycling stresses the upper legs, while rowing stresses your back and upper body. If you cycle and row on the same day, you stress your upper legs and upper body on the same day. To reduce your chances of injuring yourself, you should take the next day off, or at least exercise at a very low intensity. If you cycle on Monday and row on Tuesday, you allow your muscles 48 hours to recover from each sport. When you row on Tuesday, you allow your upper leg muscles to recover from cycling on Monday. So, pick two sports that use different muscle groups and do them on alternate days. You can then exercise more intensely in each sport and achieve a higher level of fitness.

Checked 8/9/08

May 11th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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