HumanaVitality

This is the official Tumblr for Humana's well-being program, HumanaVitality. Take charge of your health today.
Recent Tweets @HumanaVitality

Article originally published by Competitor.com and reposted here with their permission.

In short, it depends on the experience of the athlete and the type of workout he or she is performing.

It’s the question all runners want to know the answer to: “How long will it be before I see the benefits from my workout?”

Unfortunately, like most aspects of running and training, there isn’t a quick and easy answer.

Most experienced runners have heard that it takes 10 days to realize the benefits of a workout. While I agree that this is a good rule of thumb to follow, especially during the taper phase of a training plan, it’s not a very accurate measurement of how your body responds and adapts to a myriad of different training factors. For example, the exact rate your body absorbs and responds to a workout is going to be influenced by the type of workout, the intensity, your recovery protocol, and your body’s own rate of adaptation.

However, while there is no universal and simple answer to this question, if we take the time to break down all the factors that affect workout absorption, you can extrapolate a fairly accurate estimation of how long it will take to benefit from each type of workout on your training schedule.

Setting the Stage

Like any analysis that involves a myriad of influencing factors, the first thing we need to do is establish our assumptions and control some of the variables.

First, for the purpose of this in-depth breakdown, we’re going to assume that you’re implementing a thorough recovery plan after each workout. While ideal workout recovery is an article in itself, we’ll simply presume that you’re at least doing three things after each workout: (1) fueling properly; (2) getting plenty of sleep; and (3) stretching or getting massage to reduce soreness. Certainly, you can be doing more to speed your recovery, but this is the baseline we’ll use for general workout adaptations.

Second, we need to make an assumption about your general rate of recovery. It’s unfortunate, but some runners have the ability to recover faster than their peers. We all have that running pal who seems to bounce back from track workouts like he or she didn’t even run the day before (if you don’t know someone like this, then you’re the envy of all your running friends because you’re “that guy”). Likewise, runners generally recover slower as they get older. Typically, a 65-year old is going to take longer to recover from a hard workout than a spry runner in their mid-20′s. For the sake of keeping things simple, we’re going to assume your rate of recovery is about average for a 35 to 40-year old runner. If you’re older or have found that you recover much faster than your running peers, you’ll be closer to the outer numbers of the ranges presented in the following pages.

Different Workouts Take Different Amounts of Time

As mentioned earlier, the type of workout you perform and the intensity at which you perform it at will determine how quickly you see the benefits. Why? Because your cardio-respiratory, muscular, and nervous systems all respond to training at a different rate. Since each type of workout is designed to stress a particular physiological system, the rate of adaptation will vary.

To make it simple, here is how quickly you’ll reap the benefits from each type of workout on your training schedule:

Speed Development

Speed development workouts target the nervous system and are designed to develop the communication between your brain and your muscles. More importantly, improvements to the nervous system allow your brain to activate a greater percentage of muscle fibers and fire them more forcefully.

These types of workouts aren’t the type of speed work most runners think about. Instead of lung busting intervals, speed development workouts consist of short, full-speed repetitions with full recovery. Examples of speed development workouts include explosive hill sprints, in-and-out short sprints, or 200m repeats with full recovery – yes, the type of stuff you see sprinters doing at the track.

Luckily, you can reap the benefits from a speed development workout very quickly, usually within a day or two. The nervous system responds quickly to new stimuli because the growth and recovery cycle is very short — according to this study, it’s the same principle behind and extensive warm-up that involves dynamic stretching and strides. The nervous system responds very quickly to new stimuli and changes.

VO2max Sessions and Hill Workouts

VO2max and hill workouts are designed to develop your anaerobic capacity, or your ability to withstand a large amount of oxygen debt. They will also benefit your muscular system.

Unfortunately, muscle strength and anaerobic capacity take longer to develop because of the intense demand on the body and the amount of time it takes for the muscle fibers to recover after intense sessions. Therefore, it takes anywhere from 10-14 days to realize the full benefit from an anaerobic capacity workout.

You should also note that because of the demanding nature of these workouts, you may actually feel like you’ve “lost fitness” for 7-8 days after these workouts. We all know running the day after an intense session of 400′s can be difficult, but the performance loss will carry through for a few extra days, so be wary.

Threshold Runs

Threshold runs, tempo runs, and marathon pace runs are designed to train your body to increase its ability to reconvert lactate back into energy. In general, these types of workouts are taxing, but they aren’t slug fests like a VO2 max workout might be. Therefore, the recovery cycle after a tempo run is faster, which enables you to reap the benefits from the workout within 7-10 days.

Long Runs

Finally, the goal of a long run is to build-up your aerobic system. Primarily, this is accomplished by increasing the number and size of the mitochondria in your muscle fibers, increasing the number of capillaries, and increasing the myoglobin content of your muscle fibers.

While these improvements to the aerobic system are great for long-term development, you don’t often “feel” the benefit from them right away. It can take 4 to 6 weeks to notice changes in your aerobic ability and for the actual training effect to be felt. Likewise, the more experienced you are, the less you will “feel” the benefits from a long run since your aerobic system is already quite developed.

Long Term Benefits of Training

It’s important to note that realizing the benefits from one workout and fully developing each energy system are two completely different training topics. In this article, I’ve merely outlined the time it takes for your body to repair the muscle damage and experience some amount of growth in a specific physiological system. Fully developing any of these energy systems takes time — and lots of it (think: years). However, long-term development is a topic that deserves its own article entirely — so stay tuned.

HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes or starting an exercise routine.

image

This month we’d like to spotlight the District of Westosha, an entire group of HumanaVitality® members who inspired staff and their families to excel in the program.  They have worked hard to be healthy and now 92% of the members in their group have reached Silver Vitality Status or higher, making them the second most engaged group of members in the HumanaVitality program!  

For the District of Westosha, the benefits of HumanaVitailty have been much bigger than Vitality Bucks®—they are truly walking the talk.  In the last two years, they have seen a reduction in claims costs totaling over $321,000!

Though they are celebrating their hard work and newfound wellness, they’re still aiming high—the District has increased their goal for next year to achieve 95% Silver Vitality Status and above.

Congratulations to the District of Westosha for being our Inspiration of the Month!

If you would like to be our next Inspiration of the Month, send us a private message on Facebook, telling us why you’re an inspiration!

HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. 

Freedom, Fireworks, Fresh Fruit—July has it all!

Whether you’re playing on the beach with your family, grilling with friends, or training for a Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, this month’s workout mix celebrates the spirit of independence—with a beat that will get your heart pumping red, white and blue!

Enjoy the mix on Spotify, if you don’t have Spotify, sign up for the free service.

Each month, HumanaVitality™ will put together a motivational mix of music that gets us moving. Don’t be shy—suggest a few tunes that motivate you— if you don’t see your jam on here, send us a request on Facebook,  Twitter, or Instagram!

HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes or starting an exercise routine.

Article originally published by Competitor.com and reposted here with their permission.

To race the perfect mile, a runner needs to possess an equal balance of strength and speed.

Think back to your elementary school days and the first race you probably ever ran: the gym-class mile. Fast-forward a few years, through the countless 5Ks, dozens of 10Ks and the half-marathons and marathons you’ve completed. Racing the mile has likely been an afterthought unless you ran track competitively in high school or college.

Fortunately for those of us who weren’t on the track team, or who would like to return to the simpler racing of our youth, all-comer’s track meets are catching on in the U.S., and most meets offer that famous four-lap footrace. It’s also noteworthy that stand-alone one-mile road races are popping up all over the country, offering an alternative to long-distance racing and a different way to connect with the sport.

“The race is hard enough that it takes a great deal of effort, but short enough that anyone feels like they can do it,” says Erik Nedeau, a former 3:57 miler, and the current cross-country and track coach at Amherst College in Massachusetts. “A 5K might seem long to some and a marathon too much of an endeavor, whereas knowing that there is a local mile race coming up can be just the motivator.”

Don’t fear the mile. It’s not just an exclusive all-out sprint reserved for a handful of fast folks with spiked shoes. Whether you’re trying to break five minutes or 12 minutes, this classic footrace allows all runners to test their personal limits.

To race the perfect mile, a runner needs to possess an equal balance of strength and speed. The fastest guy in the field won’t make it to the finish line first if he isn’t strong enough to hold that speed for 5,280 feet. And the strongest guy won’t win, either, if he doesn’t have a decent set of wheels. Use this plan to maximize how long you can maintain your fastest sustainable speed for four laps of the track or a one-mile stretch of road, while fighting off the inevitable rush of oxygen debt this middle-distance race is known for.

“Like any race of longer distance, strategy and tactics are learned by experience, training, trial and error,” says John Mortimer, a former professional runner whose mile personal best is 4:01.64. “But in the mile specifically, I suggest an athlete do race-specific training to teach the body to handle the increased levels of oxygen debt. Luckily at the end of a mile, it is only a few short minutes of pain versus miles of pain if one hits the wall in a marathon.”

The twice-weekly workouts in our one-mile training blueprint represent a balanced mix of strength (hills), stamina (tempo runs) and speed (intervals) aimed at preparing you to run your best mile. You’ll start with a one-mile time trial at the beginning of the training program, and the progression of the workouts over the following eight weeks are geared toward helping you improve this initial mark. Will some of these sessions be uncomfortable? Most definitely, but training for and racing the mile is all about embracing a new challenge, dealing with a few minutes of discomfort and breaking through barriers.

The Training Plan:

Weeks 1-4

Weeks 5-8

HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes or starting an exercise routine.

Article originally published by Competitor.com and reposted here with their permission.

Managing the balance between family, fitness and work is never easy, but it becomes all the more challenging when your job is being a professional athlete. Yet, more and more mom runners are coming back from pregnancy stronger than ever. On the mental and emotional front enduring labor or sleepless nights spent caring for a sick child can certainly help to put a race or hard training day into perspective. And good time management is critical to making everything fit in a day. For athletes, that might mean focusing more on the quality of workouts instead of the quantity.

“Becoming a mom has made me a better runner,” says Megan Lund-Lizotte, 30, mom to 1-year-old Maven. “I know I have to get as much out of my exercise time as possible.”

Lund-Lizotte made the 2013 U.S. team for the World Mountain Running Championships last September while she was still breast-feeding Maven, so she traveled to the race in Poland with her daughter, a breast pump and her mom. (She finished 32nd in the 9K race, helping the U.S. to a fifth-place team finish.)

There is also the argument that being a mom can make a woman more physically fit. Just seven months after having her son, Colt, Kara Goucher ran the 2011 Boston Marathon in 2:24:52. Paula Radcliffe won the 2007 New York City Marathon less than a year after having her daughter, Isla. Deena Kastor gave birth to baby girl Piper Bloom in February 2011 and went for her first easy run less than three weeks later. She eased back into training, but saw her fitness return remarkably fast, so quickly that she raced again at the NYRR New York Mini 10K less than four months after giving birth.

While increased blood flow and the growth hormones associated with pregnancy could possibly give some benefits, the boost, if any, is typically short lived and doesn’t make up for a lack of sleep or endless diaper changing.

The time it takes to return to peak fitness has more to do with an athlete’s ability to maintain fitness while pregnant, how their bodies adapt postpartum, whether or not they are breastfeeding (Lund-Lizotte admits to dehydrating quickly when she was still nursing Maven) and how hard they are able to work to get back to top form. Maintaining core strength through pregnancy and immediately afterward to keep the pelvis and lumbar region stabilized is one of the key contributors to postpartum running performance and health.

It might be psychological or it might be something that can’t be measured or quantified.

“Running started out as something purely for me, my escape, my ‘me’ time,” says two-time U.S. 5,000-meter champion Lauren Fleshman, 32, mother to Jude, 11-months old. “It’s still my ‘me’ time, but what I didn’t expect was how whole I would feel when I cross a finish line and Jude is there.”

Darcy Africa, a mom, ultrarunner and two-time winner of Colorado’s grueling Hardrock 100 offers a similar observation.

“When I was running up towards the Hardrock finish line, a friend asked what I most wanted to see or do (after I finished),” she says. “All I wanted at that moment was to see Sophia.”


HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes or starting an exercise routine.


Article originally published by Competitor.com and reposted here with their permission.

Jason Devaney shares his ideas on how to stay safe when you’re out running in the heat.

With summer fast approaching, runners everywhere can rejoice. Gone are the cold, rainy days of early spring and here are the long days of sun and warmth.

Working out when it’s nice outside is one of my favorite things to do. Everything is in bloom, I get to wear my sweatband, and my lungs don’t burn because of the cold air I sucked in all winter.

But be careful what you wish for.

Running can be dangerous when the needle on your outdoor thermometer is buried. Hydrating before, during, and after a run is super important. So is staying as cool as possible, while at the same time making sure you’re protected from the sun. And, of course, always bring identification and a few bucks in case you get into trouble. A phone helps, too.

Here are five tips to remember while running in the heat.

1. Hydrate

Hydration is never more important than during a hot summer run. Your body heats up as you work out, and some people can lose five or 10 pounds of sweat during a long run. You can do one of three things: Drive your running route ahead of time and stash some water and sports drink in various spots, bring a fuel belt, or leave cold drinks at your house and run a loop past it every few miles so you can drink up.

2. Dress Lightly

Now is clearly not the time of year to be wearing running pants or heavy base layers. A pair of light, breathable running shorts, along with a top made of a wicking material, is all you need. Throw on a hat and sunglasses to protect your scalp and face from the sun, and wear sunscreen—particularly on your nose, arms, neck, and legs (the back of my calves always burn). If you’re wearing a tank top, be sure to get your shoulders.

3. Be Prepared

You should be prepared for every run, whether it’s 20 degrees and snowing, 85 and sunny and everything in between. Being prepared means bringing identification (try a Road ID), cash and/or a credit card and a phone. You never know what can happen out there. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are very serious … if you start to feel ill, call for help or flag down a motorist.

4. Cool Down

When you return home from your summer run, you’re most likely drenched with sweat and feeling overheated. Grab a drink of cold water and hop in the shower. Turn the water as cold as you can stand it and let your body cool down. Or, if you’re feeling particularly bold, give yourself an ice bath and bring your body temperature down to a normal level again.

5. Ease Into It

After months of running in colder temperatures your body won’t be used to pounding out 15 miles in the hot summer sun. So don’t jump right into it. If you have a long run scheduled and the forecast calls for temperatures in the 90s, head out before sunrise when it’s not as warm. Or wait until the evening. Try to run along shady paths as much as possible. After a few weeks your body will adapt—but don’t become complacent. If it’s too hot or if you’re not prepared, it’s better to wait a day than to to go put yourself in potential danger.


HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. This material is intended for informational use only and should not be construed as medical advice or used in place of consulting a licensed medical professional. You should consult with your doctor before making dietary changes or starting an exercise routine.