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July 31, 2014, 5:42 pm

Take exercise slowly, but do it regularly

With the increased number of people getting involved in fitness at my company, exercise-related injuries have also increased. How can we get fit and stay healthy without the injuries?

                                                                                                                                                            Ada, Philadelphia

Here are a few tips to help prevent some injuries:

Do toe-touches while sitting on the floor with your legs slightly bent. This takes stress off your back.

Never do straight leg sit-ups. Bending your legs will take some stress off the lower back.

Never bounce while stretching. This could tear muscle and injure tendons and ligaments.

Do all standing exercises with your feet at least hip width apart. If you stand with your feet together, it’s like standing on one foot.

Use a spotter. A spotter should keep the weight moving when you’re near your maximum level. When you strain while lifting you build up pressure in the body that can cause hemorrhaging, headaches and vision problems.

The best preventive measure is common sense. So, exercise smart to avoid injury.

 

Sleep

How much sleep do I really need if I work out?

 

Arnold, Philadelphia

If you get the right amount of sleep you will get the most out of your fitness program. If you don’t get enough sleep your muscles will work less efficiently and you’ll stop making progress in your fitness program. Get less sleep than you need and you’ll find yourself stressed more often and you’ll get sick more often. Everyone needs at least eight hours of sleep. If you train, you may need more. To find out what you need, keep a diary of your sleeping habits. Record the time you go to bed, the time you wake-up, the total hours you sleep, your mental and physical state during the day; any naps and what you ate or drank before bed. After a few weeks, review your diary. You should be able to get good idea of what helps or hinders you from getting the sleep you need. Remember, rest and sleep are just as important as exercise and good nutrition.

 

Stair climber’s feet

I use a stair climber a lot and I find your feet feel numb and sometimes tingle. What can I do to stop this feeling?

 

Joan, Denver, Colo.

The numbness or tingling is caused by a compression of the forefoot nerves. In most cases, this is temporary. Don’t ignore the tingling or the numbness. If it persists, consult your doctor.

To help avoid this condition while on the stair-climber:

1. Keep a flat-footed position on the pedals to decrease forefoot pressure.

2. Wiggle your toes occasionally during your workout.

3. Make sure your shoes have enough room in the toe box.

4. Make sure your shoelaces are secure but not tight.

5. Stand upright. If you lean forward, it puts more stress on your forefoot.

6. Don’t use the stair-climber every day if you have a problem.

7. Remember that if you have a persistent problem, you should consult a doctor.

 

Exercise and aging

Will exercise stop the aging process?

 

Alfred, Woodbury, N.J.

There is no mythical fountain of youth to stop the aging process. Aging starts at birth. Good nutrition and daily, vigorous exercise play a tremendous role in helping us age gracefully. As we get older, life can be plagued with many health risks. These midlife health robbers can include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis. Many illnesses or physical problems associated with aging are due partly to a lack of activity and poor nutritional habits.

While we cannot stop aging, we can take some steps to help improve our chances of living a longer healthier life.

Don’t smoke.

Don’t drink and drive.

If you do drink, drink in moderation.

Reduce your risk of AIDS.

Check your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly.

For women, Pap tests and mammograms are a must.

Install smoke detectors in your home.

Eat balanced meals and avoid fad diets.

Your diet should include a variety of foods.

Be cautious about media hype about new health issues.

Exercise regularly.

 

Reducing your thighs

I hate my thighs. I want them to look different. What can I do?

 

Jane, Boston, Mass.

Thighs can be a problem area for most people and they never seem to look the way we want them to look. Thighs don’t have to be a problem area and you don’t have to resort to fad diets or hours doing leg lifts.

Toning exercises shape the body, while aerobic exercises burn fat. You’ll need to do both to resculpt your thighs. Aerobic exercises should be done for at least 30 minutes or more three to five times a week. Aerobic dance, walking, jogging, biking, jumping rope or rowing are all good aerobic exercises.

Here’s a good beginner exercise to help firm the front of the thigh.

For the back of the thigh, leg curls are a good beginner exercise. You can do them seated, standing or on a lying leg curl machine. Using a slow steady pace, pull your heels toward your buttocks as far as you can. Using the same pace lower to your starting position and repeat for 8-10 reps. Concentrate on using the back of the thigh to lift the weight. Work up to three or four sets.

Aerobic and toning exercises will help to reduce and firm your thighs but you’ll also have to change your eating habits.

 

Potassium

How important is potassium?

 

Rose, Philadelphia

Potassium helps to balance our body’s fluids and can act as a natural diuretic. It also helps in the building and replacement of your muscle and bone tissue. It is also important in regulating your heartbeat and blood pressure.

Potassium is found in vegetables, especially green leafy ones. It’s also found in oranges, bananas, whole grains breads, pastas, and sunflower seeds. One average banana will supply you with a quarter of your daily requirements for potassium. Try this morning treat with your kids. Before going to bed mash three large bananas. Place the mixture in an ice tray with a popsicle stick in each one. Then freeze overnight. This will make a cool and nutritious morning treat.

 

More jogging

I want to increase the number of miles I’m jogging. How should I increase my workout gradually?

 

Stanley, Pleasantville, N.J.

If you increase the number of miles, you’re jogging or your training intensity too fast you could cause bone stress fractures and muscle tears. Increasing the amount of exercise, you do can be beneficial, but only if you do it gradually. When jogging, add an eighth of a mile a week. If you started with a mile, in two months you’ll be jogging three miles without injury. If you’re lifting weights, add five pounds at a time every other week. In two months, you will have increased your lifts by 20 pounds. If you don’t increase your training gradually, you will increase your risk of injury. This goes for the advanced exerciser also.

Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.

 

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