One thing I discovered, much to many a health professionals' chagrin, is that everything needs salt. The pasta water needs salt. Chicken needs salt. Veggies need salt. Even desserts need a dash of salt. Fleur de sel caramel? Yes, please!
But if you're concerned about sodium and hypertension, here are a few tips, based on information in Exercise Physiology: 6th Addition (Powers, Scott K. and Howley, Edward T.):
- Reduction of sodium in the diet can help lower blood pressure in individuals sensitive to excess sodium. This can be as easy as not eating fast food and cutting out processed meats. This does not mean you can't season while you cook. In fact, I'd say the best way to reduce sodium is to cook at home, where you can control what goes in to what you eat.
- Reduction of sodium is not THE one solution to eliminating hypertension. Above reducing sodium in the list of recommendations for lowering blood pressure is to lose weight, limit alcohol intake, and exercise moderately 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
- Any exercise is good, but cardiovascular exercise that focuses on increasing VO2 max (simply put, trains your body and heart to learn to work harder for longer), such as interval work or maintaining a "comfortably hard" effort for a few workouts a week, is especially effective in lowering blood pressure.
- Most Americans take in enough salt at mealtimes, but those new to moderate to intense exercise will sweat more salt than an acclimated individual. So it is important when embarking on a new exercise regimen, not to eliminate all sodium from the diet at the same time.
- Exercise lasting less than an hour requires .5L to 1L of water consumption during exercise. Carbohydrates and electrolytes are not required for efforts lasting less than an hour. If you plan on running in the heat or sweating a lot (like coming to my class), however, and are concerned about electrolytes but maybe don't want the extra calories, an electrolyte-enhanced water is a perfect option. Smart Water and Victory H2O are great, and Trader Joe's even makes one, too!
- Exercise lasting one to three hours (for us mere mortals, say a half marathon) requires .5L to 1L of fluids per hour containing 6%-8% carbohydrates (by volume) and 10-20 mEq (don't worry about that unit) of Na+ (sodium) and Cl- (chlorine). What this means for those of us who don't like numbers and math is that a basic sports beverage is more than sufficient. For a half, I usually like to alternate taking water and sports beverage every other aid station starting after 5 or 6 miles. On a less supported course, you might consider wearing a belt with one bottle of water and the other with Gatorade or Powerade.
- Exercise lasting longer than three hours is a bit beyond my territory. Save for the occasional marathon, I don't typically run for this long. Additional nourishment containing carbs and electrolytes might be necessary beyond fluid consumption. I might take a gel every hour in addition to alternating between water and a sports drink. Ultramarathon territory is a completely different game. There's where you'll read about runners drinking pickle juice and eating salted pretzels.
Alright, now let's get sweaty.
Hot Spin #2 (click here for Hot Spin #1 and other hydration tips)
1) "Mr G" (original mix) Deadmau5 - Warm up, flat road, alternate lead legs and spend a little time in all 3 positions. Add a gear half-way through song.
2) "Sweat" Snoop Dogg vs. David Guetta - Add another gear. Seated steady pace with bursts in position three (no added resistance, just pick up the pace)
3) "All Along the Watchtower" Jimi Hendrix - Hill #1: Sit and climb for the burst, add a gear and take it up to 3 for the chorus. This time, leave it on when you sit.
4) "The Boys of Summer" The Ataris - Runs on a flat road (or light resistance) on the chorus.
5) "Hot in Herre" Nelly - Jumps! Add a gear and jump on an 8-count, 4-count, 2-count, then repeat for 2nd half of the song with an added gear.
6) "Firestarter" Prodigy - Hold steady drill: Starting with light resistance, try to match your cadence to the beat (we're looking for 70-80bpm, not double-time, which would be too fast at 140). Starting at 40s in, add a gear and hold your pace. Add another gear every minute and don't slow down!
7) "Santa Monica" Everclear - Hill #2: Seated, heavy climb. Don't dip below 60rpm, but crank that resistance until it feels challenging to do so. If your legs aren't aching by half-way through, add a gear.
8) "Cupid Shuffle" Cupid - Back to a flat road for a second to recover, then add a gear or two (for the safety of your knees). We're going dance a little and go through all 3 riding positions. Starting at 15s in, we'll start in position 1 for 20s, then 2 for 20s, then 3. Then we'll cycle through each stance for 15s. each. Then 10s, then 5... etc. Work your way down til shifting every 4 beats
9) "We Will Rock You" Queen - Hill #3: start at medium resistance and add a gear and take it out to 3 every time they sing "we will rock you!"
10) "We Are the Champions" Queen - From where you left off, sit (if you can pedal smoothly - if not, take off a gear or two 'til you can) and grind it out to get to the top.
11) "Lonely Boy" The Black Keys - Take a couple gears off and start in position 2 at a nice jogging pace. We'll pick it up a little in position 3, taking 1 gear off at a time as we recover.
12) "Sandstorm" Darude - Freestyle runs - these 2 sets of runs are your last 2 chances to get that cadence up, push yourself to your limit, and give it all you got!
13) "Mad Season" Matchbox 20 - cool down
14) "Traffic in the Sky" Jack Johnson - stretch