Swedish training alternates speed, intensity

Fitness Q & A

an apple a day supplies fiber, potassium

Health & Fitness

April 11, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

What is Fartlek training?

Ask 10 people and you'll get 10 different definitions of Fartlek training.

Derived from the Swedish words for speed and play, Fartlek is a training technique in which you vary intensity in random intervals based on how the body feels.

Most often applied to running, the term has come to be loosely defined as any interval training without pre- determined, measured intervals (including manual resistance exercises like squats and push-ups).

A Fartlek session might involve pinpointing a landmark ahead (like a mailbox or bend in the road), sprinting until you reach it, returning to your original speed for "active recovery," then dropping for a set of 25 sit-ups.

Baltimore-based fitness expert Tony DeCesare, president of Metabolix Inc., an area sports performance and weight-loss company, sees Fartlek training as just another fitness trend.

If you do want to learn the technique, DeCesare recommends working with a fitness expert who is experienced in the technique. Overall, though, he says that any exercise based on alternating heart rate spikes and drops is, basically, "a reinvention of the wheel."

Does an apple a day really keep the doctor away, or are apples mostly water without much nutritional value?

While an apple may not pack the nutritional punch of a shot of wheat grass juice or bowl of spinach, there is something to that "apple a day" phrase.

Among other things, antioxidant-rich apples are a good source of fiber and potassium. According to the American Dietetic Association, the fiber in apples promotes heart health and helps prevent colon cancer.

Apples may also help reduce the risk of other forms of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and asthma. It's true that apples are about 80 percent water, but that other 20 percent is full of phytonutrients. Some experts suggest that apples may even help keep teeth cleaner and whiter.

So reach for a classic like a Gala or McIntosh, or bite into a new favorite like a Honeycrisp or Pink Lady.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@baltsun.com.

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