Oxygen Debt

As athletes, you know the feeling; hands on your knees, trying to catch your breath after a grueling set of wind sprints. You try and stand tall, putting your hands on your head, desperately gasping for air. Before you know it, coach blows the whistle for the team to get back on the line to do it all over again.

In exercise physiology there are all sorts of wonderful phenomena going on inside your body immediately following an intense bout of exercise. One of the more traditional terms tossed around, and one that was hammered into my head during graduate school, was the term "oxygen debt." And for the sake of the conversation, you can think of oxygen debt as recovery time, or the amount of oxygen required during recovery to get your body back to a steady, normal state. The thing of it is, while it's called oxygen debt, it's not something you can actually pay back.

You know, Rev. Scotty Smith says, "Breathe in God's grace like you breath in air. It's just as vital, actually, more so." Reading that makes me think back to those old days of training. If you're a swimmer, maybe the gasp just above the water is a better picture. Either way, air is vital for our survival. But even more so is the grace that God offers us through Jesus. And the sin debt He paid in full on the cross of Calvary is a debt we can't repay. Good works -- when performed to try and keep us in good standing -- will only leave us gasping; think of a fish out of water. That's us without grace.

So with the wonderful Lent season fast approaching, keep that in mind. Grace allows us to breathe easy while we work. Because no matter your success or failure at whatever commitment the beautiful Holy season inspires in you, God can't love you any more than He does right now. So don't try and repay Him. Simply accept His grace, take a deep breath and sigh.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: I like what Louie Giglio says: "For Lent, I'm giving up." For some of you, Lent represents an amazing time of renewal and commitment. Perhaps you're making commitments to read your Bible daily, or give up sweets, or television. Some of you will use this time to realign yourself with healthier foods and choices to exercise. Others will take what Louie said and simply give up trying to be perfect. Well, whoever you are and whatever your needs, we're here with you. God bless you and all of us as we're mindful of the coming season where God conquered death and the grave so we wouldn't have to.

CARDIO CORNER: If you participate in athletics, or any kind of intense activity, you're well aware of the feeling right after a bout of exercise. And EPOC -- excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (often used interchangeably with the term oxygen debt) -- is the number of calories expended (above resting values) after an exercise bout.

EPOC represents the oxygen consumption the body uses to return to its pre-exercise state. The physiological mechanisms responsible for increased metabolism following exercise include oxygen replenishment; phosphagen (ATP-PC) resynthesis; lactate removal; and increased ventilation, blood circulation and body temperature. The body generally takes anywhere from 15 minutes to 48 hours to fully recover to a resting state. Studies have found that the magnitude and duration of EPOC depend on the intensity and duration of exercise. Other influencing factors include training status and gender. (Source: American College of Sports Medicine)