Expert Tips

The science behind your fitness

Before you get to work building the body of an Adonis, get to know yours inside out, says Kurtis Stacey


So this month I’ve decided to switch it up. I won’t be giving you a fitness program to follow, or information on the best ways to burn fat. This month, I met with Exercise Physiologist and PhD candidate Thomas Craig to go through a series of tests that will give me an indication of my overall fitness levels, and which will show if I have any underlying problems that could be effecting my health and training.

I’ve decided to touch on the scientific side of things this month, as over the past few years I have noticed an increase in people who look and seem to be physically fit and healthy, yet suddenly experience health scares or worse – heart problems. I know that’s a bit morbid, but every day I see influencers and trainers encouraging us to push ourselves, run that bit faster, lift that bit heavier and take supplements. What I want to encourage you to do this month is look into the science of your body before you do those things – know your health and your personal limits. You may not want to go to the extent that I have, but you can start by knowing your heart rate at rest, your maximum heart rate, your heart rate after cardio or weights and your blood pressure. These are things that you can do yourself by either simply checking and timing your pulse manually, or by investing in a good fitness watch. This is what happened when I went to the lab.

“Cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET) is a non-invasive simultaneous assessment of the heart and lungs during exercise,” explains Tom. “Prior to exercise, we assessed Kurtis’ heart rate and rhythm via an electrocardiogram (ECG), in combination with his blood pressure. He then performed an incremental exercise protocol on a cycle ergometer (advanced exercise bike)

“Throughout the exercise; we continued to assess the rate and rhythm of his heart, whilst repeatedly recording his blood pressure every three minutes. To monitor gas analysis, he was required to breath through a mouthpiece, with each breath providing information on his oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide production and ventilation. As the heart and lungs work simultaneously to deliver oxygen to the working muscles, a CPET assesses how efficiently these systems are working.

“Additionally, despite its long use in assessing athletic performance, the CPET provides valuable information that is frequently used in clinical decision-making. Therefore, a disease or condition that affects the heart or lungs will reduce the intensity to which they can work. As suspected, Kurtis’s overall health was in top condition and we found no causes for concern, but we do encourage people to start thinking about their insides as much as they do the outside. If the public do have any questions, please get in touch with BESTFIT, or seek advice from an exercise physiologist.”

Thankfully the test went well for me. It wasn’t in any way a difficult task, but now I have a better idea of my overall health and I can continue to push myself knowing I am in good physical condition. Personally, I would advise people to do a CPET if you are considering taking up running for the first time or any kind of exercise that is going to push you beyond your usual limits.



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