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September 1, 2014, 7:39 am

Exercise will solve strength problems

My shoulders seem to be sagging. Is there anything I can do reshape my shoulders?

Sandy, Vineland, N.J.

You can use shoulder pads to give them a straight lifted appearance, but what about when you have to look at the real you? Instead, develop the muscles that help hold up the shoulders girdle, neck muscles and the scapula area. Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Grab two dumbbells and hold them at your sides along the middle of your thigh. Raise your shoulders upward then roll them backward and down. You can also roll them forward. Do 3 sets backward for 8–10 repetitions. This is a good exercise to loosen up the shoulders and upper back muscles during the day.


Tennis Grip Strength

I want to play a better game of tennis this year and I want to improve my grip strength. What exercises will help me improve my grip?

Jean, Philadelphia

The muscles in the forearm control your grip strength. The forearm contains 19 muscles. They perform a variety of functions. If you find you're having problems with your grip, try these two exercises. Grasp a barbell or a pair of dumbbells with your palms facing up. Sit down with your feet flat on the floor. Place your forearms on top of your thighs with your wrist extended over your knees. Curl the weight with your hand without lifting your forearms off your thighs. The second exercise has you sitting in the same position but with your palms facing down. Start with one set of 10 repetitions for each exercise twice a week and increase the number of set each week until you're doing at least three sets. Do these exercises after your tennis game.


Osteoporosis and Gender

I always hear about older women and osteoporosis. Do men get osteoporosis? Is there anyway to prevent it?

Karen, Cheltenham

Osteoporosis is a condition that affects men and women. Though it usually affects the elderly it begins at around age 30 for women and age 50 for men. Osteoporosis is associated with loss of bone mineral, which results in less density and strength in bones. Normally, women have about 30 percent less bone than men and after menopause lose bone mass twice as fast as men. Lower levels of estrogen after menopause, chronic alcohol abuse, coffee, tea, candy, low calcium intake, lack of exercise, high levels phosphorus, which is found in soda all contribute to bone mineral loss.

Taking preventive measures for bone loss should start early. By your mid twenties you should be taking between 800–1500 milligrams of calcium daily. Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, green leafy vegetables, dried beans, sardines and salmon. Calcium alone will not prevent or treat osteoporosis. Exercise stimulates bone strength. Bones weaken when you don’t exercise. This applies to both men and women.



I’ve been reading the labels of most of the foods I buy. But, I don’t recognize the names of some ingredients. What is hydrogenation?

Linda J., Bristol, Pa.

Hydrogenation is the process that makes oil solid at room temperature. This is the process that gives us margarine and gives processed foods a longer shelf life. Hydrogenation fats act the same way saturated fats act in your system. Saturated fat raises your cholesterol level. Hydrogenated oils, sometimes called trans fats, are found in cakes, pies, cheese spreads, cookies, some ice creams and most bread.

Most foods contain saturated, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats should only be 10 percent of your total caloric intake. Remember, hydrogenation increases the amount of bad fat. So read the label and limit your trans fats and saturated fat combined to less than 14 grams daily.



What can I take to boost my energy level?

Dan, Washington, D.C.

There are a lot of herbs that have become popular for energy such as ginseng, guarana and bee pollen. All of these products are called natural, which may have you believe they are safe. These products have to be broken down into a chemical that the body can use. All three of these products are powerful chemicals that can have bad side affects.  It has been said that ginseng can cure almost everything, increase your endurance and improve your sex life. Ginseng is largely based on superstitions and anecdotal data instead of scientific fact. Side effects of ginseng can include insomnia, diarrhea and skin eruptions. Ginseng can also affect blood sugar, which may complicate diabetics.

Guarana is a caffeine-based product. Guarana is an herb that is used to boost energy. The bad effects of caffeine can include sleeplessness, irritability, anxiety and depression. A person can suffer the bad effects from one or two cups of coffee a day.

Bee pollen is mixture of bee saliva, plant nectar and pollen. There have been no good large studies done that can show that bee pollen can increase your endurance. This product can be dangerous to anyone that has allergic reactions to bees or pollen.

The best way to increase energy level is to eat right, exercise and get enough rest.


Vitamin C

How do I get in the Vitamin C that I need?

Kevin, Orlando, Fla.

Vegetables and fruits provide us with the vitamin C we need, but we loose much of it when we handle our food. Vitamin C, which is also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C plays a major role in healing wounds, burns, red blood production, formation of connective tissue, fighting infections and preventing hemorrhaging. This vitamin is destroyed easily when foods containing the vitamin are stored or cooked. Vitamin C is sensitive to light, heat and air. Smoking, excessive drinking, antibiotics, cortisone aspirin pain killers, excessive amounts of water, cooking in cooper utensils and sulfa drugs can reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin C. You should store vitamin C as little as possible. When you do store foods containing vitamin C you should keep them refrigerated. When cooking foods containing vitamin C, you should cook them as little as possible. Steaming and micro waving them in a small amount of water for short cooking time help to insure you will get the most of the vitamin C found in the food.

Before starting your fitness program, consult your physician.


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