Posts Tagged ‘Health News’

2015-03-03-1425415599-5776437-gymmachineshealth460

By K. Aleisha Fetters, 

Exercise machines are simple — too simple, in fact. According to metabolic training expert BJ Gaddour, C.S.C.S. owner of StreamFIT.com, “They’ve been dumbed down to the point that they just don’t do your body much good.” Besides parking you on your butt, most machines isolate a single muscle, meaning you’ll burn fewer calories and gain less muscle mass rep for rep.

Most importantly (at least as far as medical bills are concerned), exercise machines can lead to injury. Even with their adjustable seats and pegs, finding the proper position can be close to impossible — and even then the movements just aren’t natural. “Free weights and bodyweight exercises allow your body to move in a natural range of motion,” Gaddour says. “When you fix it, it results in a limited and improper movement pattern that can be dangerous.”

Here, Gaddour shares five exercise machines you should swear off — and all-star alternatives that will give you better, faster fitness gains.

1. The Machine: Lying Leg Press
Your legs are strong (after all, they carry your body around all day), so if you lie down with your legs above your head for a leg press, you have to load more than the equivalent of your bodyweight onto the machine to achieve significant resistance, Gaddour says. Problem is, all that weight goes straight to your lower back, which flexes under the pressure. The risk? A herniated disk. Plus, the move doesn’t even work any of the stabilization muscles in the hips, glutes, shoulders, or lower back. The result: All pain and barely any gain.

Try This Instead: Goblet Squats
Apart from working just about your entire lower body in a single move, this squat variation involves holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front of your chest to keep your form in check and the weight off of your lower back. Sometimes, a lighter load delivers a better burn.

2. The Machine: Seated Leg Extension
Since the weight is placed so close to your ankles, the machine puts undue torque on the knee joint, which can wear down cartilage and cause knee pain, Gaddour says. Plus, the common gym contraption is built around a motion that has little real-life benefit.

Try This Instead: Step Ups
Besides working your quads far better than any machine, step ups also train your glutes, hamstrings, and calves. By calling up more muscles, your knees are actually strengthened, not worn down.

3. The Machine: Seated Chest Press
While sitting is less than useful, the bigger problem here is that the machine can cause lopsided muscles. How? If one arm is weaker, the stronger one can end up doing all the work — and getting all the benefit, Gaddour says. To make sure both sides of your chest are strengthened equally, you need to load them separately.

Try This Instead: Pushups
An oldie but a goodie, pushups equally engage both sides of your chest. If it didn’t, you’d fall right over onto your side. What’s more, they tap your core for support and balance. After all, hot bodies aren’t built on chests alone.

4. The Machine: Hip Abductor/Adductor
If it looks ridiculous, it probably is, Gaddour says. And squeezing your thighs together — or pushing them apart — over and over definitely counts. Besides actually working very few muscles, it also strains the spine and can make the IT band so tight it pulls your knee cap out of place — not a good look for anybody.

Try This Instead: Single-Leg Squat
When you’re not in the gym, your inner and outer thighs largely work to maintain stability. So they should do the same thing when you’re in the gym, right? Single leg exercises — like the single-leg bodyweight squat — require those muscles to brace your body and keep you upright, all while putting your quads, glutes, and hamstrings to good use.

5. The Machine: Loaded Standing Calf Raise
While the idea here is to lift weight with your calves, the machine’s setup — specifically the shoulder pads — means that all the weight presses down on your spine before it ever reaches your legs. If it doesn’t turn you into a hunchback, it’ll at least cause you some back pain.

Try This Instead: Bodyweight Standing Calf Raise
If regular standing calf raises don’t have the resistance you need, try standing on one foot during your next set. Besides doubling the weight each calf has to lift at a time, it also puts your legs’ smaller, stabilizing muscles to work.

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apple, flowers and measurement tapeAccording to Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010, more than two out of every three adults in the United States is considered to be overweight or obese. Increasingly, these individuals are realizing the impact extra weight can have on their health and lifestyles, from increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease to sore joints and limited energy. As such, many individuals struggling with overweight and obesity are seeking solutions to these problems, and turning to health and fitness professionals for help. In truth, fitness professionals are poised to make a bigger impact on public health than ever before. Are you prepared?

The ability to create effective fitness programs and offer the motivational techniques to help clients succeed are just part of the equation. Nutrition can make or break your client’s weight-loss program. While it’s vital to stay within your defined scope of practice as a health and fitness professional, helping clients achieve their goals and maintain those numbers beyond the short term with an expert nutrition plan and tips is always part of a successful program.

The best possible chances for weight-loss success with these 10 essential tips:

YOU CAN’T OUT EXERCISE A POOR DIET.

We’ve all heard this one and you may already be giving this advice. The truth is that diet is a significant part of the weight loss equation. Your clients should know that rebuilding their bodies into more efficient machines requires a (mostly) healthy diet with adequate calories. This is how they will best achieve their weight-loss goals.

MAXIMIZE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES.

When it comes to weight loss, fruits and vegetables may just be your client’s best friend. These nutrient-dense foods can help clients feel fuller with fewer calories, making them an ideal addition to every meal. Fruits and vegetables also make a great low-calorie “off plan” snack when hunger unexpectedly rears its head. Clients new to a healthy eating plan may want to work closely with a dietitian to explore the best choices and preparations for fruits and vegetables.

LEARN TO LOVE LEAN PROTEIN.

Clients exploring a weight-loss program may be unfamiliar with lean proteins that can help curb cravings and keep them satisfied from meal to meal. Skinless, white meat chicken and turkey; fish and seafood; certain cuts of beef and pork; and beans and soy products are all lean choices. Once they get started on a weight-loss program with you, ensure your client’s meal plan includes a source of lean protein with every meal.

READING NUTRITION LABELS IS A MUST.

We live in a fast-paced world. To grab our attention, many products now include “healthy” buzzwords. These often do not provide the most accurate picture of a product. When it comes to weight loss and health, it’s important to read nutrition facts panels for the most accurate information. In fact, a recent study from the University of Houston looked at the difference marketing buzzwords (such as “all natural”) on packaging made and found “every single product used in this research study that included one of the health-related trigger words was rated as being significantly healthier than the exact same product that did not include those words.” Clients unfamiliar with nutrition labels should work with a nutrition professional to learn the basics of making the best choices for their weight-loss nutrition program.

PORTIONS ARE POWERFUL.

Most of us have seen how “portion distortion” has played a role in the excess weightmany of our clients are struggling to lose. While reading nutrition labels can help, learning recommended portion sizes and even regularly measuring foods are essential to meeting weight-loss goals. Clients wanting to start a weight-loss program should understand these portion sizes may take time to get used to. The best nutrition programs include easy-to-understand measurements to guide your clients as they relearn portions as part of a healthy eating plan.

MAKE IT REAL WORLD.

Your clients’ weight-loss programs should fit into their lives to ensure that they are successful now and for a lifetime. The most effective weight-loss programs include some flexibility in schedule and meal plan, as well as strategies to navigate social events, busy lifestyles and even restaurant meals. Work closely with clients to identify the weight-loss programs that will work best for them. Dietitians can also help clients navigate this real-world aspect with healthy eating strategies.

When clients are ready to start a weight-loss program, set them up for success with the right information. Working closely with your client to develop the best fitness and nutrition program can help you deliver the weight loss results they want.


 

Brought to you by the Registered Dietitians at Evolution Nutrition, a web-based nutrition management system, designed for you, the fitness professional.

A pair of ASICS stability running shoes, model...


Doctor of Physical Therapy and current PhD Candidate,
University of Southern California
Posted: 10/08/2012 11:30 am

“Yo, what type of shoes should I run in?”

Whether in a medical conference, academic setting or bar, once people know my line of research, that’s typically the first question that pops up. Often times I feel my response is a bit coy, mostly because it would take longer to answer than what people have time for. Although there’s no hard and fast answer for everyone, I personally believe it comes down to the Three Ps.

Three Ps

We’re all different — in the way we speak, the way we think, and, unsurprisingly, the way we run. Thus, when determining the optimal running shoe, it’s imperative to consider your Three Ps: pattern, passion and purpose.

(Foot) Pattern

There are three basic foot patterns: normal, overly pronated (i.e., flat-footed) and overly supinated (i.e., high-arched). Most individuals present with a normal foot type and during traditional heel-to-toe running demonstrate rapid pronation upon heel-strike. In order to slow the rate of pronation, these individuals would be best served by a stability shoe, which is characterized by a heel counter (i.e., a stiff cup around the heel), a medial wedge and a dual-density midsole.

Relative to a stability shoe, a motion control shoe is less flexible due to an increase in dual density foam and a more rigid heel counter. This type of shoe is ideal for people with flat feet, as it’s designed to help compensate for the over-pronation.

The arch of the foot is supported by a thick band of connective tissue called the plantar fascia, which becomes taught — and thus helps to absorb shock — when the foot bears weight. In people with high arches, the foot doesn’t pronate sufficiently, negating some of the shock absorption. A neutral cushioned shoe compensates for this through encouraging foot movement by maximizing flexibility (via lacking a medial wedge and presenting with a softer midsole and heel counter).

Passion

There are a multitude of different running styles that people are passionate about: heel-to-toe, pose, chi, barefoot or minimalistic, and alterations in cadence. The common denominator in all of these running forms is a manipulation in the method of foot strike. Teachers of pose, chi, and barefoot running promote forefoot strikes, while an increase in running cadence typically results in an inherent change from a heel-strike, to a mid or forefoot strike for controlled running velocities.

The method to impacting the ground is influenced by footwear. In fact, relative to traditional running shoes, when people run barefoot, or in minimalistic shoes, they naturally shift to a more anterior strike pattern (likely in order to prevent collision of the heel with the ground). It appears that shoes with reduced heel-to-toe drops may help promote this. The heel-to-toe drop is a measure of the difference in the height of the shoe from the heel to the forefoot. Traditional running shoes have drops between 8-12 mm, whereas minimalistic shoes can be as low as 0 mm.

In order to determine the optimal drop, it’s important to recognize how you impact the ground when running. Although many people believe they are forefoot strikers, it’s been shown that approximately 75 percent of runners run heel to toe, whereas 24 percent are mid-foot strikers, meaning that they strike the ground with the middle of their sole. A negligible portion of runners run forefoot. In order to prevent excessive strain to the calf and Achilles tendon, it’s recommended that heel-strike runners who yearn to run in shoes with smaller heel-to-toe drops transition to them over a period of time (with shoes with increasingly smaller drops).

Purpose

With technological advancements in the footwear industry and an associated increase in the amount of scientific research concerning footwear, we now have a greater understanding regarding the attributes of shoes that can help runners address their specific purposes. For example, a bowing-out of the knees may potentially lead to degradation of the medial meniscus (cartilage within the knee), whereas a falling in of the knees may result in lateral meniscus degradation. A lateral or medial wedge, respectively, may help to compensate for these mal-alignments. Similarly, shoes with a heel flare — an outward projection on the lateral (and sometimes posterior) aspect of the shoe — may result in an increase in pronation during the initial stance phase of running. Although it will add weight or width to the shoe, it may limit the potential of developing anteromedial compartment syndrome. Relatedly, increased cushioning under the heel may also add weight to the shoe, however, it likely will take pressure off the plantar fascia, and is thus often recommended for those with plantar fasciitis.

A recent introduction to the running market is minimalistic footwear. The Nike Free has a foam based outsole that can splay. As a result of its minimal structural support, it may help in developing the intrinsic muscles of the foot. In contrast, the Vibram FiveFingers and New Balance Minimus have rubber outsoles and appear designed to optimize the barefoot running experience. Similarly, and as mentioned above, relative to heel-strike running, shoes with reduced heel-to-toe drops that theoretically promote mid or forefoot strikes will likely result in an increased demand to the ankle and a reduced demand to the knee (and their supporting structures, respectively). The caveat of all of these shoes, however, is that they may require training to the foot and calf and/or a transitional period prior to using them exclusively for running.

So I was recently having dinner with a friend of mine at this Chinese restaurant, and his fortune read “There should only be one thing coy in the room, and that’s the fish.” So while I hope I provided a sufficient running shoe guideline, when you asked me at the bar last Friday about what type of shoes you should run in, aren’t you glad there were no fish around?

For more by Rami Hashish, DPT, click here.

Follow Rami Hashish, DPT on Twitter: www.twitter.com/runinjuryfree

User:Extremepullup performing a standard dead-...

User:Extremepullup performing a standard dead-hang pull up (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David Cassilo
USA Today High School Sports
Doing a lot of heavy lifting might seem like the best way to strengthen your upper body, but sports training expert Rick Howard says that’s not necessarily the case.

We asked Howard, the founder of the Youth Special Interest Group for the National Strength and Conditioning Association, to shed some light on a few upper-body training misconceptions.

Myth 1: Focus on muscles you can see.
Howard:
Athletes work muscles they can see like their chest. That’s why they tend to do the bench press, biceps and abs. To improve upper-body strength, you have to have a balance between the muscles on the front and back of your body.

Myth 2: Upper-body strength starts in the weight room.
Focus on bodyweight training before you transition to machines like the bench press. You don’t always have to use a strength-training machine. There are all types of exercises like pushups to work your chest muscles and exercises like pull-ups to work your back. It’s a long-term process to get into peak condition, and you need to progress correctly.

Myth 3: Do as many reps as often as you can.
Start with one set of an exercise for 10 to 15 reps. Progress to three sets, then gradually add weight. You don’t need to do the maximum every time. The key is to have great form, not to do as many reps as possible.

Myth 4: Every athlete should bench to build a strong upper body.
Some athletes have shoulder injuries that preclude them from doing a bench press. For others, there are different weighted bars that might be too heavy to lift. Instead, you can use a medicine ball, bodyweight exercises or dumbbells.

Myth 5: You should strengthen your upper body on your own.
A lot of times athletes go into a weight room or in their basement and work out without supervision. That, unfortunately, is where most injuries occur.

Some athletes are choosing water and real food instead of sports drinks and processed bars and gels.

By Alastair Bland
The SALT, NPR Food Blog
Posted 7/16/2012

As the world’s greatest athletes gear up for the 2012 Olympic Games in London this month, viewers like us are likely to see a spike in televised ads for sports drinks, nutritional bars, and energy gel — that goop that so many runners and cyclists suck from foil pouches.

Powerade, in fact, is the official sports drink of the 2012 Olympics, and if it’s true what these kinds of ads imply, processed sports foods and neon-colored drinks are the stuff that gold medalists are made of.

But sports nutritionists and pro athletes don’t all think so. David Katz, physician and nutrition expert at the Yale University School of Medicine, says sports drinks generally aren’t much better than sodas. “[Sports drink companies’] marketing is based on the gimmick that somehow this extra load of sugar and calories will turn you into an athlete,” he says

Perhaps no brand has so loudly touted its product as an enhancement to physical prowess as Gatorade. One of its most effective sales pitches asserts that its sweet and colorful drinks can rehydrate a body more efficiently than water. Leslie Bonci, a dietary advisor to several Major League Baseball teams and a consultant for Gatorade, explains, saying that the body can absorb Gatorade more quickly than it can water alone. She adds that the sugar in Gatorade provides needed calories absent in water.

“Gatorade is a source of fluid, it’s a source of energy, and it’s a source of electrolytes,” she says. Electrolytes are minerals essential in helping the body retain water — and it’s true: We can’t live without them.

But the electrolytes in Powerade and Gatorade occur naturally in many other foods, like fruits, vegetables, grains, milk and coconut water.

Katz warns that the sugar content of sports drinks is far more likely to cause unwanted side effects than it is to propel you to the finish line of a race.

Like tooth rot, for example, or that stubborn layer of blubber that clings to our waistlines in spite of our most vigorous efforts to dispatch it. After all, makers of sports drinks, bars and gels encourage people to consume their products not just during exercise, but before and after, as well.

For example,the website for GU Energy — a popular brand you may know from discarded foil wrappers plastered to the asphalt — advises sucking down one of its 100-calorie gel packs before a workout, then again every 45 minutes during the workout. For your post-workout meal, there is GU Recovery Brew.

GU Energy did not respond to our inquiries about their products by press time, but sports nutritionists aren’t so sure about the suggestion to slurp the gels.

“The sports nutrition industry just tells us to eat, eat, eat,” says Stanford University nutrition coach Stacy Sims. “They don’t care how big you are or whether you’re a man or a woman or if you’re trying to lose weight.” (Full disclosure, Sims co-founded her own sports nutrition company called Osmo, which makes powdered sports drinks for hydration and recovery, and are purportedly easier on the body than syrupy energy gels.)

Walk onto any school field on weekends, and you’ll see kids drinking sports and energy drinks, too, even though pediatricians advise good old fashioned water.

Mountain biking legend Gary Fisher says these “engineered nutrition” products keep many amateur athletes on the tubby side. “I see guys who really put in the miles, and they have a gut that never goes away,” Fisher says.

Fisher says he prefers roast beef sandwiches, burritos, nuts, and bananas during bike rides, and afterward, he often eats a large helping of chicken or fish served beside a salad dressed with olive oil.

And Scott Jurek, the record-holding vegan ultra-marathoner featured in the 2009 bestseller Born to Run, enjoys smoothies prior to his 30-mile training runs, scarfs rice balls and hummus wraps en route, and afterward feasts on quinoa, tempe, brown rice, and beans — all vegan recipes included in his new book, Eat and Run.

Jurek says gels, which are easy to pack and carry, may be convenient if no real foods are available. His favorite gel product is by Clif, which also happens to be one of his sponsors.

But Sims at Stanford says unless you’re flat out of gas with miles more to go, don’t do goo.

“The fact is, every time you take a gel, you’re doing the exact opposite of what you want to do,” says Sims, who has worked with cycling stars Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong. She says densely sugared foods dehydrate the body and cause overheating.

But that’s supposedly where Gatorade comes in, rehydrating parched athletes and resupplying the body’s depleted electrolytes.

How important is hydrating anyway? Can it be reduced to a specific formula? Timothy Noakes, a South African sports nutrition doctor, says dehydration is a simpler condition than sports drink companies have hyped it up to be. He says athletes can generally “listen” to their bodies and drink water when they feel thirsty.


Author, ‘How To Live 100 Years Without Growing Old’
Posted: 05/24/2012 10:15 am

No question, doctors and patients are now joining the vitamin D revolution in large numbers. More and more doctors are ordering tests to determine vitamin D blood levels and more patients are reading about the positive benefits of vitamin D in news reports. There have been more than 3,000 published studies and reports involving vitamin D listed at the National Library of Medicine in just the past 14 months.

Now, pediatricians at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore say all children need to be screened for vitamin D deficiency. This means vitamin D is going big time.

What’s the vitamin D revolution about and why should you join it? It’s about the rediscovery of a sun-made vitamin-hormone that was first recognized in 1922 to avert bone softening in children, what is called rickets.

Overlooked at that time was the fact that most vitamin D-deficient children with rickets had impaired immune systems. Only recently have researchers begun to investigate the role of vitamin D in maintaining an optimal immune response. In particular, vitamin D activates an army of white blood cells called neutrophils, which represent 50-70 percent of the total white blood cell volume and are the first responders to any infection in the body.

Vitamin D for colds and flu

Dr. John Cannell, founder of The Vitamin D Council, has noted that seasonal bouts of the flu and winter colds are not spread from person to person as commonly believed. Colds and the flu do not progress from town to town, and an individual in a family may come down with a viral infection while others remain healthy. Nor are colds “caught” by being out in chilly weather. In fact, medical literature points to the wintertime cold and flu season as simply a downturn in human immunity as vitamin D levels drop due to the diminished intensity of the sun combined with more time spent indoors as the outdoor temperature becomes chilly.

A relatively recent study found just 800-2,000 international units (IU) of supplemental vitamin D, by weight just 20-400 micrograms, reduced wintertime cold symptoms from 30 in 104 subjects given an inactive placebo tablet to just nine in 104 subjects given vitamin D. That is quite a striking difference.

Modern medicine is agonizingly slow in providing conclusive evidence as to whether vitamin D is the big antidote to the common cold and wintertime viral infections. But your family doesn’t have to wait; vitamin D is relatively inexpensive, and concerns about overdosing are poorly-founded.

The biggest concern among doctors is that mega-dose vitamin D will cause a condition called hyper-calcification. But it takes about a million units of vitamin D for this to occur in healthy adults. Intake of 40 1,000-unit vitamin D pills a day would be required to produce toxicity in an adult.

Our family isn’t waiting for more science. My wife and I began taking 5,000-8,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, and we have found at the first sign of a runny-nose cold we take 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 and our cold symptoms usually subside within minutes. That much vitamin D may seem to be problematic, but physicians inject 300,000 IU among postmenopausal females for wintertime bone protection without side effect.

Putting vitamin D into practice

Recently, our 7-year-old son began to develop symptoms of a cold and an earache. We started with 5,000 IU of chewable vitamin D and then gave another 5,000 IU a few minutes later. Our son was also given some elderberry syrup, reported to be helpful for the flu, along with some vitamin C. We soaked Q-tips in hydrogen peroxide and placed them in his ear canals to kill off germs and then instilled an herbal ear drop that provided garlic oil. Within a short time the earache and other symptoms were gone.

This regimen continued for about three days as symptoms began to reappear upon awakening in the morning — that is, until our son was given his vitamin D. He didn’t miss a day of school and no doctor’s office visits for antibiotics were required. Special note: If earache symptoms persist, don’t be so stubbornly committed to self-doctoring that you allow your child to suffer permanent hearing loss.

When our son was about 2.5 years of age he awoke in the middle of the night crying with a fever of 101.8 degrees Fahrenheit. We broke up vitamin D tablets, mixed them with water and instilled about 5,000 IU in a bulb syringe orally. Within minutes he began to shake with the chills, a sign his fever was breaking. Within 15 minutes he was sound asleep in his bed.

The vitamin D revolution is underway, and it has promise for addressing many maladies, including childhood food and peanut allergies, for pregnant women to reduce the risk of lower respiratory tract infections, wheezing and asthma in their offspring, and for tonsillitis, just to mention a few of its many applications. Learn to use vitamin D for your whole family and they will really call you Doctor Mom. To learn more, I’ve written a free family guide to vitamin D, available here.

For more by Bill Sardi, click here.

For more on natural health, click here.

By Dr. Laura Q. Rogers
GateHouse News Service
Posted Apr 27, 2012 @ 12:17 PM

The key component to weight management is caloric balance. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Exercise helps you burn more calories while you are trying to lose weight.

Exercise boosts the number of calories your body burns for up to 24 hours, even while resting. By exercising while on a weight-loss diet, you will be able to retain muscle mass, which helps your body burn more calories and improve your physical functioning while losing fat. It also can help you sleep better; disturbed sleep can interfere with your ability to lose weight.

Once the weight is lost, individuals who continue to exercise are able to keep it off better than those who do not exercise. Exercise redistributes the fat away from the abdomen. If the fat is in your abdominal cavity, it increases your health risk for diabetes and heart disease.

How much exercise do I need?

You need to determine your daily caloric needs at rest –– the number of calories you are burning at rest, based on your current weight, age and height. A free online calculator on your smartphone or computer, such as caloriesperhour.com/index_burn.php, can help you do this.

Then, factor in the amount of physical activity you are doing during your usual daily activities. If you have a desk job, you are not going to burn any more calories than when you are at rest. However, a construction worker burns more calories on the job. Brisk walking burns about 300 calories an hour, and jogging burns 675 calories an hour.

Next, determine the number of calories you are actually eating. This requires keeping a diet record by writing down everything you eat and drink, including portion sizes. Read food labels to identify how many calories are in various foods. You can also download a free smartphone app to help you keep track of your diet.

Working out a weight-loss plan

Decide how much weight you want to lose. If you need 2,200 calories a day, and you want to lose a half pound per week, you need to do some exercise, such as brisk walking, for nearly an hour per day until you have achieved the desired weight loss. If you want to lose more weight, you need to do more exercise to burn a greater amount of calories.

Losing a pound a week requires eating 500 fewer calories per day than what you are burning. Extreme reductions in calories may cause your body to burn fewer calories, so gradual weight loss (i.e. 1/2 to 2 pounds per week) is optimal. The key is to combine diet and exercise. The online calculator can show you how long it will take to realize your goal.

Although any amount of exercise is better than none, the most effective goal for weight loss and redistributing fat away from the abdominal area of the body is to exercise at least 250 minutes per week (or 38 minutes per day). Wearing a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps a day also helps with losing weight and reducing abdominal fat.

Be safe while exercising

Wearing proper shoes for the activity you are doing is an important first step in exercise safety. If you have excessive weight or have diseases, such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, you must be careful and may want to engage in only low-impact activities. Always wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn’t bind or constrict. Also, stay hydrated by drinking water as needed.

Do I need any special tools?

No tools are required if you choose simple exercises, such as walking, which is considered one of the best ways to exercise. Some individuals choose exercise that requires equipment, such as a stationary bicycle or treadmill. It is important to use the appropriate equipment for your activity and make sure it is in good working order.

Making an exercise plan

A well-thought-out exercise plan will help you stay on target for meeting your goals. After deciding how much you want to lose and your calorie adjustments, you need to decide the type of exercise you will do.

Choose exercise that is safe and enjoyable. Will it be of moderate or vigorous intensity? Be sure to check with your physician if you have health risks or symptoms. How much time can you devote to exercise?

Think about adding some variation to your exercise routine so you do not get side-tracked by bad weather, boredom or broken equipment. Having an exercise partner for social support is helpful to some people. Also, keep exercise records.

Start slowly and gradually to avoid injury. As you become stronger and more flexible you can work your way up to longer duration and more repetitions.

If your chosen exercise is walking, it is recommended that you wear a pedometer for a week and record how many steps you did per day. Then calculate a daily average. Increase about 500 steps per day every two weeks and maintain a record of daily steps, working up to 10,000 steps per day.

Work exercise into your daily routine, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or bike to your destination, exercise at lunch with co-workers, take a 10-minute break to stretch or take a 10-minute walk and reduce screen time.

Dr. Laura Q. Rogers is professor of internal medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

Be Healthy Springfield (Ill.)

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