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August 21, 2014, 12:18 am

Dieting alone won’t shed pounds

Will aerobic exercise help me burn fat? How will I know when I’ve done enough?

Stephanie, Los Angeles


Aerobic workouts will help you burn body fat if you do 30 minutes or more of continuous movement. It takes your body 25 minutes to switch to the fat-burning stage during a workout. Try to get in at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise three to four times a week. Try to keep your aerobic workout less than 60 minutes. This way you won’t overdo it and you’ll decrease your risk of injury due to repetitive stress. You may have to start below 10 minutes and increase your workout time gradually. Some examples of aerobic exercise are 30 minutes or more of brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, swimming, walking in a pool, aerobic dance and jumping rope. Workouts that include a lot of stop-and-go movements will burn calories but are not considered aerobic.


Cardio Calorie Counter

How can I tell how many calories I’m burning when I ride a stationary bike, run on the treadmill or use the stair climber? Some of the counters make some big claims.

Phil, Cleveland

The calorie counter on your stationary bike, treadmill or any cardiovascular equipment just estimates how many calories you’re burning. Each company has its own way of counting the calories you’re burning. The number of calories you burn is dependent on many factors, including your weight, your intensity, and duration of time and how you perform the exercise.

The readouts on the machines can be useful. They can help you increase your workout intensity, raise your activity level and measure time. Just as in lifting weights, you have to increase your effort over time.

If you do develop problems with your knees, you should consult a physician.

Instead of cutting calories, work out for 30 to 60 minutes three to five times a week. Walking is great for the beginner, and jogging can become addictive. You’ll also want to do toning exercises for each part of the body, such as weight training or calisthenics. Experiment with different workouts and find something you enjoy. Make sure you consume 12 to 15 calories per pound of body weight daily.


More stress than usual

My son is undergoing some changes right now that seem to be creating a little more stress than usual. What can I do to help him learn how to relax a little more?

Nina, Houston

Though kids don’t have the same responsibilities as adults, they are faced with situations that can create stress. It’s important for you to help them learn how to handle this stress effectively.

Here are some tips that may help:

Discuss what it feels like to be stressed by choosing examples that are age appropriate.

Discuss any physical signs of stress he may experience like upset stomach or sweaty palms.

Teach him how to calm down. Have him take a deep breath and imagine that he’s sucking in air through his feet. Then have him exhale all the stressed air out of the body and let go of tense feelings.

Next, have him imagine a comforting image like being in the park, sitting in Dad’s lap or sitting on the sofa with the family pet.

Encourage him to practice the breathing and visualizing the comforting setting, whenever he feels stressed.

Also, taking part in non-competitive physical activity or playing games can help reduce stress.

One of the best ways to deal with stress is to talk about the problem or situation that creates stress. Try to eliminate the stressor if you can’t help him find ways to cope with it.


Body Lice

My children just started school and they have made many new friends. I’m afraid of them sharing things and being infested with head lice. What should I know about head lice?

Judy, Houston


The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that six to ten million individuals are infected with head lice annually. In some areas, the level of infestation can be as high as 40 percent among children. Head lice are tiny, wingless insects that are generally about a sixteenth of an inch long, about the size of a sesame seed. They are grayish-white to tan in color. Most people think that only people that have poor personal hygiene are affected by head lice. When actually, head lice prefer a clean host, so even those who bathe regularly may get them. Head lice have been affecting man for ages. Lice have been found attached to the hair of Egyptian mummies, pre-Columbian Indians from Peru and prehistoric Indians from the American southwest.

So how do we get head lice since lice cannot fly or jump? They are transmitted primarily by direct contact with an infected person, sharing combs, barrette, scarves, hats, headbands, towels, stereo headphones, swimming caps or other personal items. Head lice can survive 20 to 48 hours without a host.

What should you look for? You should be suspicious if your child scratches his head frequently. The bite from head lice is irritating to the scalp. The bite can cause itching and redness. A crusty infection on the scalp may develop. A careful inspection will require a bright light and a magnifying glass. Since lice are quite fast, you should look for its eggs, which are usually attached to your hair. The eggs can be yellow to tan in color. You should concentrate your search around the ears and the nape of the neck. 

If either lice or eggs are found, you can treat with special shampoo, cream or lotion that contains 1 percent permethrin until the infestation is completely gone. To remove eggs, you should shampoo the hair in warm water and then comb the eggs out with a fine-tooth comb while the hair is still wet. You can even give younger kids haircuts to make the process easier. To prevent their spread, everyone infested should be treated at the same time. It’s also important to wash all bedding and dry them in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes on high. You should vacuum your mattresses and upholstered furniture. Items that are not washable should be thrown away. You should iron or dry-clean clothes that can’t be washed. Seal stuffed animals and pillows that can harbor lice in plastic bags and keep them out of the reach of children for at least 20 days. You should either buy new combs, curler and brushes or boil them for at least 20 minutes. If your child has repeated infestations of head lice, try a mixture of 50 drops of Tea Tree oil in two ounces of warm olive oil. After covering the hair and scalp, cover your head with a shower cap and a hot moist towel for two hours. Then rinse the hair well and comb out the eggs and the lice with a fine toothcomb. The treatment is an involved process that must be followed to completion to prevent the infestation from affecting the whole family.   

Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.

Join me, Sobriety Through Out Patient, ProAct and the Recovery Community to help put a new face on recovery, addiction and mental health on Sept. 24 at Penn’s Landing. For more information call ProAct at (215) 345-6644, or go to Let’s get some exercise, have some fun and help put a new face on recovery in our community.


If you have a fitness question or concern you would like addressed, write to “Tips to Be Fit” P.O. Box 53443 Philadelphia PA 19105, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (215) 387-3081. If you’ve missed an article of “Tips to Be Fit,” go to and search “Tips to be Fit.”

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