Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. Symptoms include swelling, pain, redness of skin, heat at the joint, and loss of function. Arthritis can severely limit activity in people of any age, but it's the leading chronic condition in people age 65 and over and it's more common in women than in men. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms.
Osteoarthritis is painful and linked to the wearing away of the cartilage found at the ends of bones. As the cartilage deteriorates, the bones grind together, causing pain. It's usually found in the joints of the neck, fingers, hips, knees, and lower back. It's more likely to affect people over age 40, and by 60 most people show signs of the disease. Obesity is often a cause of osteoarthritis because the excess weight adds to the stress on the hips and knees.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammation of the membranes that line the joints. The body's immune system attacks its own tissues, causing inflammation of the joints. The entire body is affected by this condition. Unrelenting pain and severe joint damage are common symptoms of this disease. Anti-inflammatory drugs are useful in treating the disease.
You can exercise daily without injury to the joints if you have arthritis. We'll discuss exercise in our next tip.
Almost everyone can lose weight. People with a slow metabolism will have a harder time and it may take longer to shed all the unwanted pounds. The key is to have a carefully planned program of nutrition and physical activity.
Designing a program of at least 45 minutes to an hour, four to five times a week, is generally the most effective method of increasing metabolism. Research has indicated that the body consumes mainly carbohydrates during intense workouts, while it relies more on fat to fuel prolonged, moderate exercise. Brisk walking, dancing, and bicycling are good slimming-down exercises.


T'ai chi is a martial art that is characterized by soft, slow, flowing movements that are performed with precision. It emphasizes relaxation and is a form of meditation in motion. People practice t'ai chi for health benefits, especially for the following conditions: arthritis, rheumatism, back problems, high blood pressure, and stress.
T'ai chi helps you, through meditation, to deal with yourself and others more effectively. It emphasizes learning control over yourself. It challenges you to become a better person by allowing the real you to emerge without limitations. This is part of the paradox of opening up and becoming powerful. The philosophy of t'ai chi understands everything in opposing principles, yin and yang. Harmony results in the natural balance of self and world. The results are physical and spiritual well-being.


The heart is a muscle, and as with any muscle, must be exercised to stay strong and working. After two to three months of aerobic exercise on a regular basis (three times a week for 20 or more minutes), the heart thickens, pumping more oxygenated blood with each beat. The arteries expand in diameter, allowing for greater blood flow. The working muscles of the arms and legs become efficient at using oxygen from the bloodstream. Exercise capacity improves tremendously.
The major risk factors for heart disease are reduced by aerobic exercise. Higher levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) are produced and the arteries have less plaque. The resting heart rate decreases, resulting in the same amount of blood pumped each day but with less wear and tear on the heart. Numerous studies indicate that aerobic exercise reduces depression and anxiety, and calms the mind. Sleep habits improve over a period of time. And, a Harvard University study of alumni men suggests the more active you are, the longer you will live.


Skeletal muscles are composed of two types of fiber: slow-twitch and fast-twitch. Each is found in all skeletal muscles. If you look at a cross-section of muscle under a microscope, you will see a blend of light and dark fibers. The dark (red) are the slow-twitch, and the light (white) are fast-twitch fibers. They lie side by side but have very different functions.
The body will always try to do a physical task with as little effort as possible and use as little amount of energy as possible. This means that the body uses only as many fibers as necessary, and the first to be used are the slow-twitch fibers. The fast-twitch fibers are recruited when the task becomes more demanding, and they add to the exertion of the slow-twitch fibers.
The number of slow-twitch and fast-twitch fibers in the muscles is determined by heredity. Appropriate physical activity can improve both the fitness and performance level of each kind of fiber.


The slow-twitch fibers have a high capacity for using oxygen for energy. They're called red fibers due to the large amount of blood supply found in them. They are slow to contract but have the ability to continue to contract over long periods of time. Studies indicate these fibers are used in prolonged endurance activities that require large amounts of oxygen. Running long distances, aerobic activities, and repeated muscle tasks over several minutes are performed by the slow-twitch fibers.
If your goal is to increase your cardiorespiratory fitness, continuous training of 30 or more minutes daily is all that is necessary for you to reach your optimal fitness level. However, if your goal is to participate in physical activities that involve quickness, you will need to develop the fast-twitch fibers.


Many of us do not make it past the first six months of our exercise programs. We never reap the benefits due to dropping out before we can see and feel the difference. The reasons for our stopping are often common ones: scheduling difficulties, competing demands on time, a lack of affordable accessible programs, and a lack of confidence in our ability to keep pace.
Desire becomes the most important motivational factor. To have desire, we must have a program we enjoy. Here are some considerations for increasing desire:
  • Select a comfortable level of intensity (around mid-point of your target heart range).
  • Choose an activity you can stick with for a lifetime.
  • Do not compete with others.
  • Use a personal trainer or fitness professional to learn to exercise correctly (don't worry about performance).
  • Use time to unwind mentally.
    If you become bored with your program, try new activities to refresh your routine. Schedule your exercise time at the beginning of the week and stick with it.


    Fast-twitch (white) fibers contract quickly, allowing for explosive muscular contractions. They are suited for high-speed but short-duration exercise. These fibers do not have a high capacity for oxygen; therefore, they fatigue very quickly. They are used most often an anaerobic activities such as tennis, racquetball, sprinting, and karate.
    Interval training is one method of conditioning for both the fast- and slow-twitch fibers. It involves intense exercise for a given distance or a specified time alternated with lighter exercise and recovery. These exercises are performed at near-maximum levels of intensity. The heart rate and energy requirements are greatly increased by the intensity of the exercise. The capacity for anaerobic performance is heightened through regular interval training.
    After the age of 50, we must use our fast-twitch fibers or we lose them. It is important to have some type of exercise routine that includes light dumbbells along with daily household chores such as mowing the grass and carrying the groceries.


    One type of muscle strain is called a muscle pull. Usually the injury occurs when the muscle is overstretched. Scar tissue forms at the site of the injury and is not as strong or resilient as the original tissue. For a long time after the injury, you will feel its effects.
    The second form is a strain involving the tissue around the muscle. Most of these injuries involve a tendon (tissue that attaches muscle to bone). The blood supply to the surrounding tissues is limited, and the injury will take longer to heal than a muscle pull.
    Almost everyone will experience a muscle strain at some time. Recovery is usually quick, typically three to six weeks. Age and physical conditioning are factors influencing recovery time. Ice packs applied immediately to the injury will help to reduce swelling and pain. Resting the injured area for several days and avoiding exercising the muscle until it is healed is important for full recovery. If the muscle is ruptured or torn completely, surgery may be necessary. See a physician if the injury does not improve in a reasonable amount of time.


    A great way to end an exercise session is to take a five-minute relaxation break. Lie on your back on the floor; bring your knees up to the point that your feet are flat; place your right hand on your left shoulder, your left hand on your right shoulder; and let your knees rest on each other. Close your eyes and just allow your body and mind to relax. Listen to your favorite inspirational music if possible.
    This technique is also great to use with children. You can use it at the end of a family fitness activity or when you need to calm your children down for a few moments in transition from one activity to another.


    Cycling is a physical activity that can be done in many different ways. There is competitive cycling around an oval track, fitness cycling on the open roads, pleasure and recreational cycling, and stationary cycling at home or a club. Cycling is a non-weight-bearing exercise that many overweight and older people find beneficial. The following is a sample beginning program:
    • Ride on a predetermined three-mile course.
    • For beginners, select a course on level ground. For the experienced rider, try to have equal amounts of uphill and downhill riding.
    • Ride the course in 18 minutes or less if possible.
    • Try to maintain a steady pace throughout the ride.
    A ten-speed bike will allow you to use low gears when going uphill. This will keep you from pushing your heart rate too high.

    Over 125 million Americans ride bicycles and about 1,000 deaths per year are reported from cycling accidents. The following are suggestions for cycling safety:
    • Wear a helmet. It should be ANSI or Snell approved.
    • Don't drink and ride.
    • Respect traffic.
    • Wear light reflective clothing that is easily seen at night and during the day.
    • Avoid riding in the dark.
    • Ride with the flow of traffic.
    • Know and use proper hand signals.
    • Maintain the operating condition of the bike.
    • Use bike paths whenever possible.
    • Stop at stop signs and traffic lights.


      Alcohol consumption adds empty calories to our diets since it has no nutritional value. It is stored mainly as fat in the body and has adverse effects on athletic performance. The chemistry of the body is changed by the use of alcohol. The liver's output of glucose decreases, resulting in the lowering of the amount of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) entering the cells. ATP is the fuel for muscle contraction and immediate bursts of energy. Alcohol also increases fatigue, promotes difficulty in regulating body temperature, and dehydrates the body.
      Alcohol has mind-altering effects on the brain. Within minutes after alcohol enters the bloodstream, the nerve cells of the brain are numbed. The heart muscle strains to cope with alcohol's depressive action. If drinking continues, vision, balance, and coordination are impaired. Over time, alcohol abuse increases the risk for certain forms of heart disease and cancer. It can destroy the functioning of the liver and pancreas, resulting in organ failure.
      The general message: Alcohol consumption can lead to poor athletic performance and health-related problems.


      Most people do not understand or are even aware of stress and the consequences of too much distress (stress we react to in a negative way). Many people who are aware of stress think only of stress as negative. Actually, stress can be good for us if we react in a positive way. After all, examples of stress can include welcoming a new baby to the family, planning a wedding, or studying for a test.
      Stressors are events and they always come before stress. Stressors are the cause (example: divorce, death of loved one, loss of job, failure in school); stress is the effect. Stress can cause the body to become exhausted and begin to break down. Hypertension, stroke, heart disease, depression, alcoholism, gastrointestinal disorders, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulitis may occur as a result of stress over a period of time. Other related disorders that are symptoms of stress are migraine headaches, allergies, asthma, hay fever, anxiety, insomnia, impotence, and menstrual irregularities. The dependency-related behaviors of cigarette smoking, overeating and undereating, and underactivity relate in part to unresolved stress. The immune system weakened by constant stress may allow infections and cancer to invade the body.
      To deal with stress, you need to practice positive coping skills. A high level of fitness, proper nutrition, and involvement in challenging activities will help you to handle stress.


      Your body responds to stress physically in the same manner for both positive and negative stress. The body's natural protective technique to handle a stressor is the "fight or flight" syndrome. As soon as the stressor occurs (a signal such as your child is late for curfew), adrenaline is released from the adrenal glands (located on top of each kidney). Your body has moved into the fight or flight mode. Adrenaline gives you energy to perform physical acts. The amount of adrenaline released depends on the intensity of the stressor and your previous experience with the stressor (your child is never late and you fear the worst).
      The body's functions begin to change. Blood circulation increases, sending more nutrients (energy) to your brain, lungs, and muscles. Muscles are strengthened to respond to the fight or flight syndrome. Breathing becomes more rapid to give you more oxygen. Your senses become sharper, making you more alert. You are ready to respond to the event that is happening.


      A stress reaction to an event affects homeostasis, the body's tendency to maintain a steady state--for example, maintaining body temperature or blood sugar levels. Our bodies require a balanced state to function smoothly. When prolonged stress interferes with our homeostatic balance, we become more prone to develop stress-related disorders.
      Your first approach to coping with the distress is to get some temporary relief. Exercise is a good way to burn off the adrenaline that is preparing you to flee the situation or to fight back. This will allow your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate to return to normal following the exercise. It will also help you to deal with your emotions and to respond to the situation rather than react to it.
      Many people work off the tension of daily hassles with a brisk walk, a run around the park, a dozen laps around the pool, jumping rope, or an aerobic dance class. Regular exercise can strengthen the body's systems, such as the cardiorespiratory system, that are affected by stress. Vigorous exercise can elevate the level of endorphins in the blood (hormones that stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain) and give feelings of well-being. Exercise can also reduce the uncomfortable feelings of stress, such as muscle tension and anxiety.


      Different types of walking result in different benefits. STROLLING is walking at a leisurely pace. Strolling burns about 100 calories per a 30-minute walk. It's probably too slow of a walk to receive any health benefits. FITNESS WALKING is walking at a brisk pace of about three to four miles per hour. It meets the requirements for moderate exercise. Regular fitness walking can help to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, adult on-set diabetes, hypertension, and obesity. RACE WALKING is fast heel-toe walking. It looks funny to observe, but speeds approach a pace of 5-plus miles per hour. Race walking gives all the benefits of fitness walking and may also increase longevity. RUGGED WALKING is hiking in rugged or hilly terrain at a brisk pace. It gives all the benefits of an aerobic workout. Climbing the hills strengthens the muscles of the thighs, hips, and buttocks.
      To increase the amount of calories burned and to give your upper body a workout, pump your arms as you walk. Always stretch before and after a workout.


      Exercise can be lonely, but it is necessary for a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Getting up early on a cold winter morning to go to the gym or for a three-mile jog can be difficult. If you have an exercise partner or a network of exercise people, this chore can become a social connection. The encouragement effect of a partner or exercise group can help keep you going through the low motivational moments. Mark Goulston, author of Get Out Of Your Own Way: Overcoming Self-Defeating Behavior (Perigee Books, 1996) believes the lack of self-discipline in doing something very difficult often re-creates in us a certain loneliness that we experienced as a child. An exercise partner or group can help us with these feelings.
      Exercise partners add accountability to exercise. Positive peer pressure to show up for a scheduled fitness session may be the solution for people who quit their exercise routines. For a beginning exerciser, a partner or group may provide the knowledge, encouragement, and consistency needed to keep going. A group or partner may also provide a way for you to improve your fitness level. Networking allows you to find fitness partners and groups that will push you to work harder to develop your personal fitness.


      Personal trainers are becoming a very popular way for people to learn proper fitness techniques and to feel comfortable in a fitness facility or gym. A trainer can develop an exercise program for you based on your personal health and fitness goals. He/she will take you step by step through your fitness routine until you feel confident. This is especially beneficial for the person just beginning a weight-lifting program, but just as important for someone wanting to boost his or her old exercise workout.
      Hiring a trainer does not mean that you are engaging in a long-term commitment. A series of five or six appointments focused on teaching the basic exercise principles is probably all that's needed for most people. Checkup sessions to build on what you have learned will keep you improving and help you stay motivated.
      Personal trainers charge between $20 and $100 or more an hour depending on where you live. One way of reducing the rate is to organize a group of two or three friends to split the cost of the session. Not all trainers will work with groups unless you commit to a certain number of sessions. Trainers should have credentials from national professional organizations such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE): Always ask for client referrals and professional references.


      Billy Banks, a seven-time world karate champion, created Tae-Bo by combining Tae Kwon Do, boxing, and the latest music. Many fitness clubs now have classes of kickboxing, Tae-boxing, and martial arts aerobics. While these classes can offer a safe workout, they do require above-average endurance, strength, and flexibility. Consider these guidelines before your first kick or punch:
      • Focus on proper technique.
      • Go at your own pace.
      • Watch your balance.
      • Do not overextend your kicks beyond your flexibility and strength levels.
      • Do not lock your arms or legs.
      • Know when to stop.
      • Modify any of the exercises that are too difficult for your level.
      • Avoid crowded classes.
      • If you are a beginner, choose a beginner's class.
      • If you are doing a video workout, watch the entire video before you begin.
      • If you are taking a group class, observe before you participate.
      Remember: Many injuries from improper technique or overstressed joints will not show up for a period of time. It's extremely important for the instructor to have national certification or, if you're using tapes, that you follow the instructions precisely.


      Ideally, when choosing a health club, you should choose one within a 10-minute walk or drive from your home or office. The longer it takes for you to get there, the more time you have to talk yourself out of going. Convenience of the club is one of the best motivational factors for you to make the trip. The more variety of equipment, the better, but check to make sure the equipment is maintained and in good working order. Equipment should not look old or overused. Stuffing should not be hanging out of the benches, duct tape should not hold equipment together, and motorized equipment should not be loud and whiny. Check out the credentials of the trainers--they should belong to national professional organizations. Observe the trainers working with members to determine if they are attentive and doing their job. The club should be clean, especially the locker rooms. Carpets, shower, sinks, and pools must be kept clean to reduce the risk of infections.
      Some clubs are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; some have limited hours and days. Select a club that best meets your needs; otherwise, you will always be adjusting your schedule to try to make time for your visits.


      Before you sign a health club membership contract, there are a few simple questions to ask as recommended by the Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Federal Trade Commission:
      • Ask whether there is a trial period during which you can sample the services free of charge.
      • Ask how many members the club has and whether there is a limit on the number of members who can join.
      • Visit the club during the hours you would normally use the facility and see whether it is overcrowded during that period of time.
      • Find out if the club is open only to men on some days and to women on others.
      • Ask about the qualifications or special training of the instructors.
      • Ask to speak to an instructor about club policies regarding safety and injury prevention.
      • Take home a copy of the membership contract and read it carefully. Make sure it includes any rights or options you have been promised verbally.
      • Ask whether there are short-term memberships so you do not have to commit to the club for a longer term than you may use.
      • Find out about the club's refund and cancellation policies.
      • Consider finance charges and any special fees when you figure the total cost of your membership. Break out this cost per week and per day so you know what you are spending to use the facilities.
      • Check with your local consumer protection agencies (Better Business Bureau) to find out whether they have received any complaints about the club and, if so, how they were resolved.
      You can check out additional information at:


      It's much easier to stick with an exercise program if you have a fitness partner. Find a friend, your neighbor, your spouse, or a daughter/son to go with you to the club. Select activities that you enjoy at the club and you'll look forward to your sessions. Tell your family your exercise goals and ask for their encouragement. Schedule your exercise sessions at the beginning of the week and block that time out from your daily activities. Focus on each exercise session; don't become obsessed with the outcomes. Make a commitment to yourself to exercise 30 minutes or more four times a week. Draw up a contract with yourself stating realistic goals. Outline a plan for attaining these goals. If you have a bad day and miss a session, just gently get yourself back on track the next day. IDEA, a professional fitness organization, offers additional motivational techniques at the following Web site:


      Every health club has its set of rules concerning the do's and don'ts of using the facility. The following are some of the more general rules you'll need to know:
      • Always take a towel with you while you exercise and wipe off the equipment after you have finished.
      • Place your free weights back on the rack and in the right order.
      • Do not sit on a bench or machine that you are not using.
      • Do not crowd anyone's personal space. Stand back out of the way until the person finishes using the machine or weights.
      • Do not camp out at a weight machine or carry on conversations when people are waiting.
      • Allow people to work in or tell them how long you will be on the machine.
      • Always use a spotter if you are not sure you can safely complete your repetitions.
      • Do not use vulgar or inappropriate language.
      • Do not use more than one locker.
      • Limit the number of towels you use, especially on busy days.
      Remember that you're sharing the club with other members and that you have a responsibility to keep the club running as smoothly as possible.


      The following are some common mistakes that could cause injury or a loss of effectiveness of your workout.
      • Warm-up--Stretching is not a warm-up activity. A heart warm-up of five minutes is needed before any type of stretching activity. A heart warm-up may consist of brisk walking, light jogging, rope jumping, or a light form of the activity you are about to begin.
      • Lifting too much weight--Straining to lift a weight causes poor technique and may result in injury.
      • Failing to adjust the machines--Exercises cannot be performed properly if the seats or handles are not in the correct positions.
      • Holding your breath--Try to get as much oxygen as possible. You need the energy to perform the exercises. Exhale when you lift the weight and inhale when you lower it.
      • Cardio machines--You can touch the rails lightly but should not pull with your arms as you use the treadmill, Stairmaster, or any other machine. The correct form is to stand up straight with your arms swinging freely.
      • Not asking for help--You can avoid injury and frustration if you ask for help from a trainer or a spotter.
      EXERCISE AND SLEEP--PART 1 OF 5 Sleep is one of the keys to fitness. Sleep is highly productive in restoring and renewing the body for the next day. During the deepest stages of sleep, the body receives its daily dose of the human growth hormone (HGH). HGH promotes growth, maintenance, and repair of muscle. If we do not get enough hours of sleep or we wake up frequently in the night, we lose this much-needed deep sleep. The body does not receive enough HGH to keep the muscles healthy. This could mean our muscles might be less resilient, which increases the risk of an injury during exercise. Muscle is important for keeping your metabolism working at a high level. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn each day. If you are lacking in hours of sleep, your muscles are not recuperating from the stress of the day. They cannot function properly. It's better to get a couple more hours of sleep than to get yourself up early for your workout. EXERCISE AND SLEEP--PART 2 OF 5 According to recent studies, when we sleep we accumulate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), energy molecules that enable us to think and move. When ATP is burned as energy, it produces a by-product called adenosine. Adenosine is the substance responsible for body fatigue. Adenosine build-up in the brain eventually causes us to go to sleep. It also interrupts all physical activities of our bodies; we can no longer perform muscular activities to the best of our ability. By the end of the day, your muscles and nerves are going to be tired. To perform optimally, we must renew our supply of ATP. EXERCISE AND SLEEP--PART 3 OF 5 Regular vigorous exercise promotes sleep; however, exercising too near bedtime can keep you from sleeping soundly. Avoid large meals late in the evening or heavy late-night snacks that can disrupt your sleep pattern. A single drink in the evening may be relaxing, but too many drinks during the day can make sleep difficult. Any caffeine-containing drink (such as coffee, soft drinks, teas) and some medications can make you restless during the night. You should put any problems and worries behind you by bedtime. Winding down (watching TV, listening to music, or any other relaxing activity) in the evening is an excellent way to promote sleep. EXERCISE AND SLEEP--PART 4 OF 5 A warm bath immediately before going to bed helps promote sleep. A light snack of foods high in L-tryptophan (eggs, tuna, and turkey) and a glass of milk will help you fall asleep. Yoga, mild stretching, or alternating contraction/ relaxation of the large muscles of the arms and legs promote sleep by slowing down the body's activity level. Taking slow deep breaths and imagining peaceful settings guide the body into restfulness. Escaping into fantasies or envisioning yourself sleeping soundly slows the mind and encourages the onset of sleep. EXERCISE AND SLEEP--PART 5 OF 5 College students, people in high-stress jobs, school-aged children/teens involved in extracurricular activities or athletics, and parents of young children may not get the amount of sleep needed each night. A power nap or an afternoon nap may help to make up the sleep deficit. A power nap of about 20 to 30 minutes can be refreshing and valuable to overall performance. The nap should remain short, never longer than an hour or two, since too much afternoon sleep might disrupt nighttime sleeping. The amount of sleep needed varies from person to person. The following are some guidelines: - Newborn baby--16 to 20 hours a day - Two-year-old child--13 hours a day - Five-year-old child--10 to 11 hours a day - Ten-year-old child--9 to 10 hours a day - Adult--7 to 8 hours a day - 80-year-old--5 hours a day Prevention of cold stress is mainly a matter of dressing properly for the weather. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends one or more of the following techniques: - Layer clothing--Several thin layers are warmer than a single heavy garment. Layers can be added or removed to ventilate the skin surface. - Cover the head--Heat loss from the head and neck can account for up to 50 percent of the loss of body heat. - Protect the hands--Gloves should be used whenever there is the slightest risk of frostbite. Mittens are better than gloves for warmth. - Stay dry--Water, whether from sweat, rain, snow, or sleet, significantly increases body-heat loss. Keep feet dry. A fabric, such as wool or polypropylene, will absorb moisture from the skin and still insulate the body. Cotton is not suitable because once it is wet it no longer keeps the body warm. - Drink liquids--Fluids are as important during cold weather as in the heat. Dehydration increases the risk of frostbite. The body's rate of heat production is less when exercising on a cool or cold day, especially in windy conditions. If you're not prepared for the weather, frostbite or hypothermia may result. To learn more about the American College of Sports Medicine, visit its Web site at: If you want to take the guesswork out of your aerobic exercise, wear a heart monitor. Monitoring the target heart rate (60 percent to 85 percent of maximum heart rate) is the safest and most effective method to getting fit. Studies indicate that less than 22 percent of people are not exercising hard enough to maintain their target rate for 20 to 30 minutes. Heart rate monitors are beneficial because they calculate the intensity of your workout, giving you an instant measurement of how hard you are exercising. The basic heart-rate monitors range in price from $59 to $79 and are excellent for beginners wanting only to measure heart rate in beats per minute. The more expensive monitors calculate calories burned, lap times, average heart-rate time, recovery time, and time spent below/above the target zone. The most sophisticated models are capable of downloading data to a computer or manually recalling data on the face of the watch. These monitors range in price up to $369. Most physicians recommend exercise during pregnancy; however, mothers-to-be must be aware of the risk of prolonged exercise. Studies indicate exercise over long periods can result in an increase in the mother's core temperature (hyperthermia). This increase may also raise the core temperature of the fetus, which may result in a congenital malformation. Fortunately, exercise of 15 minutes or less is not likely to raise the mother's core temperature enough to cause problems to the fetus. If the mother exercises longer than 15 minutes, she must monitor her temperature; it should not go higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. SETPOINT THEORY In 1982, nutritional researchers William Bennett and Joel Gurin introduced a controversial theory concerning weight loss. The setpoint theory states that a person's body has a setpoint weight at which it is programmed to be comfortable. This theory proposes that the body will sabotage itself during weight loss by slowing down metabolism (the body's rate of burning calories). In extreme cases, the metabolic rate will decrease to a point at which the body will maintain its weight on 1,000 calories a day. Can the setpoint change? Proponents of this theory believe that it is possible to raise the setpoint by continually gaining weight and not exercising. On the other hand, reducing calories and exercising over a long period of time can slowly decrease a person's setpoint. Exercise may be the most critical factor in readjusting a setpoint. If the setpoint theory is correct, a low-calorie diet (below 1,000 calories a day) may cause the body to protect the dieter from starvation by slowing down metabolism and making weight loss more difficult. Modifying your diet by lowering fat, sugar, and calories (1,200 to 1,800 calories each day) and increasing fiber, water, and exercise is a way to increase metabolic rate and weight loss. 10,000 STEPS One way of determining how active you are each day is to count the number of steps you take with a pedometer or step counter. Exercise experts encourage people to walk at least 10,000 steps a day, which equals five miles. Usually when people begin recording their steps each day, they report anywhere from less than 1,000 steps to 10,000 or more. The average is about 2,000 steps a day, which equals about one mile depending on stride length and pace. A minimum of 8,000 steps a day is needed to receive the general health benefits of walking, including a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. Step counters can be especially advantageous for people who travel a lot and find themselves sitting in airplanes for long periods of time. The daily step counts can serve as a reminder to get up and walk rather than sitting and waiting for the next plane. Also, people who work in offices usually walk between 3,000 to 5,000 steps a day, which requires another 2 to 3 miles of walking when they get home from work to reach the 10,000-step goal. Many people find pedometers and step counters a motivational tool to a more active lifestyle. There are many pedometers on the market, some more elaborate than others. The basic pedometer counts only steps and sells for about $20.00 (Digi-walker by Yamax). The average model counts steps, distance, and calories and is priced around $30.00. And the top-of-the-line pedometer counts steps, converts to miles, and has a stopwatch and a clock. Businesspeople may be interested in the black leather belt with a pedometer in the buckle made by Walk4Life (Plainfield, Illinois). CAFFEINE USE AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY--PART 1 OF 2 Caffeine use by endurance athletes as a performance enhancer has been a controversial subject for several years. Caffeine works at different levels in the body to cause its effects. Studies indicate that it acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system, increases reaction time in sports requiring quick reflexes (martial arts, boxing, wrestling), and increases the utilization of free fatty acids in the bloodstream. Research has determined that caffeine will increase endurance during such activities as long-distance running and cycling but is not beneficial for strength-training athletes. During endurance events, the muscles use both fat and glycogen (blood sugar) as fuel. The natural tendency of our bodies is to use mostly glycogen during the first 90 minutes of running, cycling, and similar activities. After the 90 minutes, the glycogen stores become depleted, causing the body to slow down as it switches to fat as a primary fuel. Studies indicate that caffeine will increase the use of fat as fuel in place of muscle glycogen. This delaying of the use of muscle glycogen will allow a person to maintain a given pace longer before fatigue sets in. This would be especially important to anyone attempting to lose weight or body fat because he/she will be able to exercise for longer periods of time, resulting in more calories burned and an increase in basal metabolism. CAFFEINE AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY--PART 2 OF 2 The use of caffeine on a regular basis will reduce its beneficial effects due to physiological tolerance. This means an increase in the amount of caffeine is needed to continue to have the same beneficial effects. The result is that taking in too much caffeine can cause adverse reactions, such as delayed reaction times and excessive nervousness. In some people, this leads to caffeinism, the result of prolonged and frequent use (about ten cups a day) of caffeine. The symptoms are restlessness, anxiety, diarrhea, headaches, and heart palpitations. Also, caffeine has a diuretic effect that can lead to dehydration during hot and humid weather conditions. Caffeine use requires individual testing. A week or two prior to an endurance event, try out caffeine to determine its effects. It is recommended that two to three cups of coffee be consumed one hour prior to activity. Anymore than this amount could be dangerous due to caffeine's diuretic effect and its ability to constrict blood vessels, resulting in a higher blood pressure. If you have any health conditions that may worsen due to the use of caffeine as a performance enhancer, you will need to check with your primary care physician. The use of caffeine with substances such as ephedrine, found in Mau-Huan and Gin-Singh, is extremely dangerous due to their ability to stimulate the central nervous system and cause restricted blood vessels. This could lead to cardiac arrest. EXERCISE INDUCED ASTHMA (EIA)--PART 1 OF 3: HOW WILL I KNOW IF I HAVE EIA? It's important to recognize the symptoms of EIA and to be able to distinguish them from poor physical conditioning. Listen to your body during exercise; notice if you are breathing too quickly, if your heart is beating too fast, if there is a tightening in your chest, and if you are coughing or wheezing. For some people, these symptoms will occur within three to eight minutes of starting physical activity, but for most, EIA begins after stopping the exercise. If you are experiencing these symptoms, an allergist or pulmonary specialist can administer a test called an exercise challenge. You will walk/run on a treadmill or ride an exercise bicycle and perform repeated breathing tests. Using the results, the specialist can properly diagnose your conditions. Treatment includes careful selection of activities that will prevent the symptoms and the use of a pretreatment medication. EXERCISE INDUCED ASTHMA (EIA)--PART 2 OF 3: WHAT SPORTS ARE BEST FOR PEOPLE WITH EIA? Running and any long-distance nonstop activity, such as using the treadmill, cycling, basketball, field hockey, and soccer, are most often associated with EIA. Activities with short rest intervals, such as baseball, softball, football, wrestling, volleyball, tennis, downhill skiing, golf, and certain track and field events, are least likely to cause asthma symptoms. Swimming can be tolerated if it is done in a warm, humid environment and in a horizontal position. This position will help mobilize mucus from the bottom of the lungs. For people who cannot tolerate any of these activities, walking, light jogging, leisurely biking, and hiking may be the answer. EXERCISE INDUCED ASTHMA (EIA)--PART 3 OF 3: EIA AND CHILDREN It's extremely important to recognize EIA in children. Failing to identify EIA could cause young children to avoid physical activity and sports. Research indicates approximately 20 percent of school-age children have this condition. If your child has been diagnosed with EIA, be sure to notify the physical education teacher or coach about your child's asthma. Inform the instructor about the warning signs and characteristics of your child's disease. Most children can participate in physical activity, but the instructor should recognize the signs of breathing difficulty. He/she must understand that the child must be excused immediately from class to take medications. Make sure your child is educated about managing his/her disease while at school. The Open Airways for Schools Program was developed by the American Lung Association to inform schoolchildren about asthma. Encourage your school administrators to include this program as part of the school's curriculum. For information on this program, go to FAT CELLS--PART 1 OF 3: HOW DO WE GET RID OF STORED FAT? There is a popular belief that obesity is the result of overeating, but that may not always be true. Research indicates that in the United States, obese people don't necessarily eat more than normal weight people. They are usually more sedentary, resulting in the metabolizing (burning) of fewer calories and the storing of more adipose (fat) tissue. A normal individual has between 25 billion and 30 billion fat cells. Most overweight Americans suffer from hypertropic obesity: The number of cells is normal, but the size increases up to 40 percent from fat deposits. When we lose weight, we do not lose fat cells--they just shrink in size. Unfortunately when we have stored excessive fat, it's hard to get rid of it. The only factor that causes your fat cells to release their reserves is a lowering of glucose (blood sugar) below a given level. Individually, the fat cells will detect the lowered glucose level and begin to break down fat and release it into the bloodstream as energy. Moderate or even mild exercise can help you to reduce glucose levels by lowering the amount of insulin in the blood and decreasing the body's resistance to insulin. This enhances the "fat-burning" ability of the cells. Remember to always check with your primary care physician before you start any type of diet/exercise program. A physician can determine the best methods for you to lose weight based on your medical history. A number of conditions, such as hypoglycemia, diabetes, and glandular disease, require specialized nutritional plans. FAT CELLS--PART 2 OF 3: CREEPING OBESITY Inactivity is generally the cause of "creeping obesity." St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City has estimated deaths attributable to obesity at 280,000 or more a year. Of these deaths, most likely up to 44 percent could have been prevented by exercise. Steven N. Blair, a researcher from The Cooper Institute for Aerobics (Dallas, Texas), found in a 10-year study of 25,174 men that low fitness was a stronger predictor of mortality than was diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking. If losing body fat is your goal, some types of aerobic activity will work better than others. Low-impact aerobic activity, such as walking, step aerobics, and aerobic dance, are great activities. Also, you can benefit from no-impact aerobics, such as swimming, bicycling, and rowing. Forty-five minutes of moderate aerobic activity five times a week combined with a nutritional food plan will help you to lose body fat. Successful weight loss requires time, commitment, and perseverance. Many dieters are trapped in the "yo-yo" syndrome: They repeatedly lose and regain the same weight. The only permanent way to effectively lose weight is a combination of sound nutritional habits and regular exercise. Always consult with your primary care physician before starting any weight loss program. There are specific conditions that require individualized nutritional plans. A nutritionist can help you determine your food plan goals. FAT CELLS--PART 3 OF 3: CAN YOU LOSE WEIGHT THROUGH EXERCISE ALONE? It's possible to lose weight by exercising without a cutback on calories; however, it's difficult. Each physical activity has a caloric cost (the amount of calories or energy use). The following are some of the caloric costs based on a 150-pound person exercising for 30 minutes: Bowling: 96 calories Golf: 114 calories Walking (17-minute mile): 162 calories Cycling (6.4-minute mile): 201 calories Swimming (50 yd/minute): 273 calories Jogging (10-minute mile): 300 calories Running (6-minute mile): 480 calories To lose one pound a week, you must burn an extra 500 calories a day. Most obese people would find this very difficult, especially if they have been sedentary for a long period of time. A combination of reduced calories with exercise is generally easier for most people. NEVER TOO OLD! There are many misconceptions about aging. The myth that older people are feeble, weak, and lack vitality is incorrect. Research indicates the benefits of exercise for the elderly are similar to the benefits of exercise for younger individuals. Physical exercise can prevent and even reverse about half of the physical decline normally associated with aging. Yet, it's estimated that only 8 percent of retirees exercise at recommended levels. One area of fitness that still does not get the attention it deserves is weight training. For the elderly, weight training can improve strength, balance, flexibility, and appearance, and it can reduce the risks of falls and fractures. Just one year of regular strength training can take 15 to 20 years off the person's physical condition. Much of what we consider normal aging is no more than the lack of muscle use resulting in muscle atrophy. Statistics show the number of people is increasing in the 100-years-and-older age group. Due to a longer life span, we now have many years of leisure time after retirement. Many retirees who never had the time to participate or learn a sport skill during their career years are now spending time at the gym, courts, and pools. The National Senior Games Association provides opportunities for the over-50 group to participate in athletic competition. The best strategy for getting started is to talk with your primary care physician about exercise. Your health history can be considered when selecting the best physical activities for you. It's always important to start slowly and build gradually. For information about the National Senior Games Association, check out SHOULD I EXERCISE WHEN ILL? Exercise causes the breakdown of muscle tissue and requires the body to repair itself. In fact, the body not only repairs the damaged tissue but also makes the tissue stronger. If you are sick, your tissue-repairing ability decreases and makes it difficult for tissue regeneration. A systemic illness, such as the flu, depletes the body of its energy and slows tissue repair. Your body requires sufficient time to heal, and exercise could be detrimental. Also, emotional distress lowers the body's recuperative power. The accumulative effect of the systemic illness, emotional distress, and your age can result in an overall body deterioration. Rest becomes an important factor in the body's healing. Exercise would not be beneficial and may cause a longer recuperation period. THREE-MINUTE STEP TEST The step test is used to measure the recovery heart rate as a means of evaluating an individual's cardiorespiratory fitness (aerobic). You will need a partner, a 12-inch bench (or crate, block, step), and a stopwatch. Step up with the left foot, up with the right foot, then down with the left and down with the right. Complete 24 full steps per minute for three minutes. After finishing, sit down, have your partner find your pulse within five seconds, and take your pulse for one minute. Your score is your rate for one full minute. General recovery heart rate ratings are: Superior to excellent: less than 90 BPM Good to average: 90-100 BPM Fair: 101-120 BPM Poor: greater than 120 BPM AGILITY--PART 1 OF 2 Agility is the ability to change the direction of your body quickly and to control the movement of your whole body. It is a component of skill-related fitness, along with balance, coordination, power, reaction time, and speed. It's an important skill needed for activities such as basketball, fencing, dance, football, gymnastics, handball, judo, karate, racquetball, skiing, soccer, and surfing. The following is a simple test for agility that you can take on any tennis court: - Find the baseline center mark--this is your starting mark. See how many times you can touch the baseline center mark and the singles lines in 30 seconds. You can use your foot to touch the lines or a racquet in hand. - If you score between 30 and 38 times in 30 seconds, you have scored in the excellent range. - If you score between 22 and 30 times in 30 seconds, you are in the good range. - If you score lower than 22 times in 30 seconds, you may want to include an agility exercise in your training routine. Remember, you are only competing against your personal best. Be sure to always include a warm-up session before any physical activity. AGILITY PART--2 OF 2 The 20-yard shuttle is a drill for increasing agility. You will need to set up three parallel lines five yards apart. Start by straddling the middle line (start-finish), one foot on the left side and one foot on the right side. You can move either left or right to start. Run to line 1 and touch the line with one hand. Run immediately through the starting line to line 2 and touch that line with one hand. Run immediately back to the starting line to end the drill. You should not do this drill more than five times in a workout session. Rest time between each drill depends on your physical condition. Give yourself at least 20 seconds before the next drill. It's important that you do this drill before any speed work. PUSHUPS--PART 1 OF 3: HOW TO START? Many people find pushups too difficult and often require some form of strength training before attempting one. However, pushups are an excellent form of exercise for developing upper-body strength. Since you do not need any equipment, it's a practical, low-cost exercise. The key to success is to start at the level that is best for you. Beginner's level: Pushups against a wall--Stand back a few feet back from the wall. Place your hands directly in front of you at shoulder level against the wall. Lower yourself toward the wall surface. Push back to starting position, being sure not to lock elbows. The in-between pushup: If you have the benefit of exercising in a fitness facility, you can use the Smith machine (a piece of equipment used for bench presses) for this exercise. (If you do not, do the pushups against tables of varying heights or a counter.) The lower the bar, the more difficult the pushup. Face the bar. Place your hands at shoulder width on the bar. Lower your upper body toward the bar, keeping your legs straight and abdomen tight. Roll up on the tips of your toes as you lower your body. The chest now bears most of your body weight. Push back to starting position. Regular pushup: Place your hands at chest height, shoulder width apart, on the floor or ground. Keep fingers pointed forward. Position yourself either on your knees (easier) or toes. Bend your elbows out to the side and then lower your body. The head should be level with the spine, the legs straight behind. Squeeze your chest as you push back upward; do not lock the elbows. PUSHUPS--PART 2 OF 3: SELF-TESTING To do pushups, you will need a stopwatch or timer. Assume the front-leaning pushup position. Lower your body until the chest touches the floor. Raise and repeat for one minute. Your score is the number of pushups completed in one minute. Age 18-29: >50--Excellent, 17-45--Good, <17--Average Age 30-39: >40--Excellent, 12-40--Good, <12--Average Age 40-49: >35--Excellent, 8-35--Good, <8--Average Age 50-59: >30--Excellent, 6-30--Good, <6--Average Age 60+: >25--Excellent, 5-25--Good, <5--Average Modified pushups: Same as above with knees bent up, hands under shoulders. Age 18-29: >45--Excellent, 17-45--Good, <17--Average Age 30-39: >40--Excellent, 12-40--Good, <12--Average Age 40-49: >35--Excellent, 8-35--Good, <8--Average Age 50-59: >30--Excellent, 6-30--Good, <6--Average Age 60+: >25--Excellent, 5-25--Good, <5-Average Scoring standards are from the National Fitness Test developed by the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sport. PUSHUPS--PART 3 OF 3: ADVANCED FORMS If you've mastered regular form pushups and are ready to move on to the more difficult positions, the following are in the advanced category. Remember, form is more important than number. Fingertip pushups: Perform these pushups the same as a regular pushup but change the hands from flat on the floor to fingertips. Elevated leg pushup: Place your hands at shoulder width, palms on the floor or ground. Finger should be straight ahead and elbows flexed to the side. Elevate your legs on a bench or chair. Keep your body in a straight line. Push upward and fully extend your elbows (do not lock your elbows). Return to starting position. One-arm pushup: Perform a regular pushup with one arm behind the back. Inverted pushup: Perform a handstand with legs straight and leaning against a wall. Your hands should be shoulder width apart and your arms fully extended. Lower your head toward the floor by flexing your elbows. Push your body back to starting position. FYI: The record for nonstop pushups was 10,507, set by Minoru Yoshida (Japan) in October 1980. CONCEPT OF HOMEOSTASIS The body seeks to maintain a steady state of equilibrium and balance called homeostasis. This automatic self-regulating system must constantly monitor and regulate the amount of oxygen, carbon dioxide, nutrients, hormones, and organic/inorganic substances in the body. The sensations of hunger and thirst are examples of homeostasis mechanisms. These sensations trigger the body to maintain the appropriate levels of energy, nutrients, and water. Stress, illness, and aging are detrimental to homeostasis. These conditions make it more difficult for the body to maintain its internal balance. Nothing seems more out of balance than when we fighting a terminal illness or working in a high-stress job, or when we find ourselves in a slow decline during the middle-age years. The importance of exercise and nutrition cannot be overstated when we talk about maintaining internal balance or homeostasis. Following a physical fitness and a nutritional food plan from childhood to older adulthood gives us the physiological edge on maintaining a healthy internal balance. These elements are essential for the prevention of stress-related illness, the development of a healthy immune system, and the minimizing of age-related problems. CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING Cross-country skiing is a low-impact aerobic activity that offers people of all ages the opportunity to develop a high level of fitness. It can be a family fitness sport in which all members of the family, from 2 to 8 years old, and even the dog, can participate in together. A package of ski rentals, trail pass, and a lesson costs around $34.00. Usually one or two lessons are all that is needed to get you started. The benefits for the heart, lungs, and body musculature can be compared to the benefits of jogging. The difficulty of the terrain, pace, and the length of rest periods determine the increase in fitness. Most people skiing at a moderate pace burn from 500 to 800 calories per hour depending on weight and body composition. It can be a perfect substitute for joggers and cyclists during the winter months. To learn more about cross-country skiing, check out the Cross Country Ski Areas Association at INSULIN INSENSITIVITY In some overweight people, the amount of insulin and glucose (blood sugar) is usually abnormally high after eating carbohydrates. The reason for this is that the obese person's tissues are insensitive to his/her own insulin. As a result, as the person gains weight, the body will make changes in favor of the body getting even fatter. Insulin is secreted from the pancreas and stimulates the body cells to open pores that allow glucose to enter. When a person gains weight, the fat-saturated muscles do not respond to insulin. Insulin enters the muscles very slowly, resulting in a high blood glucose level. With the muscle cells rejecting the glucose, this extra glucose circulating in the bloodstream enters into the fat cells. The fat cells become the dumping ground for the glucose. The glucose-filled fat cells promote the development of more fat. The result is that the obese person will make fat faster as he/she gains weight. A diet of low glycemic foods in combination with exercise will help the insulin insensitive person to lose weight. It is extremely important to consult with a primary care physician or endocrinologist before changing your food plan. Insulin insensitivity can indicate hypoglycemia, a pre-condition to diabetes. WHAT HAPPENS TO MUSCLE WHEN IT ISN'T EXERCISED? As we become older or more sedentary, fat begins to slowly invade the muscles. The fat-saturated muscles reach their limit and the fat begins to accumulate outside the muscle underneath the skin. We see this in the "pot belly" of middle-age men and the thickening of the waist of middle-age women. If you diet, you will lose the subcutaneous fat (under the skin) but nothing will happen to the intramuscular fat. Your once lean and slim muscles will remain short and round. You will become a smaller version of the fat self. However, you can exercise away the intramuscular fat, resulting in the return of the original lean/slim-shaped muscles. Exercise will give firmness and definition to the muscle. WILL EXERCISE MAKE YOU MORE IMMUNE TO DISEASE? The white blood cells are responsible for fighting infection. Moderate physical exercise will temporarily increase the number of white blood cells. After exercise periods lasting less than 30 minutes, the number of white blood cells will return to normal within one to two hours. After exercise sessions lasting longer than 30 minutes, the white blood cell count will remain elevated for 24 or more hours. An increased number of white blood cells suggest an increased immunity to disease and infection. Therefore, exercise makes people less susceptible to disease. EXERCISING ON AN EMPTY STOMACH Muscles require energy for movement. This energy is found in the form of glucose (blood sugar), glycogen (sugar stored in the muscle), or body fat. When exercising, the body first uses the glucose circulating in the blood for energy. If you have not eaten, your body will not have the available glucose and will drain the glycogen from the muscle cells. The result is a tired feeling and a lack of muscle endurance. Fat is not immediately burned because the body conserves fat during times of deprivation. The metabolizing of fat is a last resort and usually does not occur for the first 24-48 hours of lowered glucose levels. MEDICATIONS AND EXERCISE Especially during the winter months, we find ourselves taking medications for sinus infections or colds. Some of the most common cold medications may cause changes in the body that will directly affect physical performance. Antihistamines are depressants that dry runny noses, clear postnasal drip, and clear sinus congestion. Some reactions to over-the-counter antihistamines are drowsiness, overheating, and impaired hand-eye coordination. Using a non-sedating antihistamine or a long-acting formula (12-24 hour) will help prevent a slowing down of your physical performance. Antibiotics fight bacterial infection and often cause stomach upset. Quinolones are antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections in different parts of the body. They work by killing bacteria or preventing bacterial growth. They carry a slight risk of tendon rupture and skin sensitivity to the sun. If using antibiotics, exposure to sunlight even for brief periods of time may cause severe sunburn, skin rash, redness, itching, or discoloration. Using a sunblock lotion and protective clothing is recommended. Do not use sunlamps or tanning booths while taking antibiotics. It may be necessary to use a sunscreen when in the sun. Decongestants are cold remedies designed to reduce nasal stuffiness. Taking these medications may raise your heart rate and blood pressure. To reduce risks, take a long-lasting formula several hours before you exercise. If you have a history of heart problems, ask your doctor about taking decongestants before you exercise. POSTPARTUM EXERCISES As soon as you have your doctor's okay after the birth of your baby, you may want to start exercising. Start slowly and don't push yourself--it will take months or even years to get back in shape. However, exercise will boost your self-esteem and possibly give you back the feeling of some of control of your life. Octavio Galindo, co-owner of Le Studio Conditioning in Pasadena, California, designed the following exercises: - Deep inhaling: Lie on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place one hand on your abdomen. Inhale in one count, expanding your abdomen; exhale slowly through your mouth. As you exhale, pull your bellybutton in toward your spine. Follow this sequence: inhale in one count, exhale in four counts twice; inhale in one count, exhale in five counts twice; inhale in one count, exhale in six counts twice; inhale in one count, exhale in seven counts twice. Strengthens abdominals. - Moving bridge: Lie on your back, knees bent, feet flat on floor, arms relaxed by your side, palms down. Inhale; exhale, lifting arms up overhead as you lift your torso up off the floor until your body is in a straight line. Only your head, neck, top of shoulders, and feet will be in contact with the floor. Inhale, then exhale, slowly letting your spine roll back onto the floor. Repeat 4-6 times. Strengthens abdominals and quadriceps. - Spinal twist: Lie on your back, bend your left knee, foot flat on the floor; keep right leg extended. Place your right hand on the outside of your left knee and extend your left arm on a diagonal to your shoulder on the floor; palm down. Inhale; then exhale as you drop your left knee toward the floor, crossing over your right leg. Staying in this position, inhale; then circle your left arm clockwise four times. Exhale as you circle. Repeat in opposite direction. Return to the starting position, switch legs, and repeat with the other leg and arm. Stretches back, abdominal, and shoulder muscles. Source: Fit Pregnancy, Fall 1999, or visit the Web site: WORKING OUT AT WORK--PART 1 OF 5: SELF-EVALUATION During the "good old days," people worked in jobs requiring strenuous physical activity. But with today's technology, many people are physically inactive. Leaving early in the morning before daylight and returning home after dark leaves very little time for a workout. Finding a way to fit in fitness at work can make a tremendous difference in your health. A self-evaluation is the first step to getting fit--you need to become aware of opportunities for physical activity. The following are some questions to ask yourself: - How do you travel to work? How early do you get there? Can you stay a few minutes later each day? - How much time do you spend at a desk? At a computer? On your feet? - Do you have breaks? How long are they? - How much time do you have for lunch? How much time does it really take to eat lunch? - Can you step out of the workplace and breathe fresh air during your workday? No matter what the answers are to the above questions, there are ways to work fitness into the workday. WORKING OUT AT WORK--PART 2 OF 5: STRATEGIES The Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity indicates that 30 minutes of moderate daily activity is the only requirement needed for health-related fitness. One good way to get some of this activity in is by altering the way you travel to work: - Park and walk: Park your car one mile from your work building and walk the rest of the way or park in the farthest spot in the parking lot from the entrance to your building. - Bus stops: Get off the bus several stops early and walk the rest of the way. - Walk before work: Before entering your building, walk around the block. A city block is slightly less than half a mile. - Stay later: Will leaving work later make a difference in your after-work schedule? Can you take a few minutes to walk the halls of the building? This exercise time may help you relieve stress at the end of the workday, revive your energy level, or prepare yourself for driving in traffic. It may help you to change roles from career person to parent, allowing you time for yourself before picking up the kids at the day-care center or arriving at home. The 30 minutes of physical activity can be spread out throughout the day. A 10-minute walk before work, a 10-minute walk at lunch, and a 10-minute walk after work adds up to fulfilling the daily requirement. WORKING OUT AT WORK--PART 3 OF 5: LUNCHTIME AND BREAKS Working for eight straight hours without some kind of physical activity is not emotionally, mentally, or physically beneficial. If possible, take at least two 15-minute breaks to walk or perform stretching exercises. Exercising for five of the 15 minutes will reenergize you and add minutes to your fitness program. If you work at a computer, get up every hour and do some type of physical activity. When talking on the telephone, stand up and pace. If you have a long cord, a cordless phone, or a headset, move away from your workstation and stretch while you're talking. If you can, visit people instead of calling them on the phone, take longer routes to the restroom or copy machine, or take the stairs instead of an elevator. Lunchtime is a great opportunity for physical activity. Parking garages and shopping malls provide a year-round place for lunchtime walks because they're protected from the weather. Also, you can get in some "hill work" along with your walk in a parking garage. Climbing stairs at your building, parking garage, or mall will provide a higher level of intensity to your workout. Eight trips up and down one flight of stairs provide an excellent lunchtime workout. Alternating walking, garage walking, and stair climbing adds variety and difficulty to the workout. WORKING OUT AT WORK--PART 4 OF 5: EXERCISING AT YOUR DESK You can work exercises into your day even at your workstation. The following are stretching and strength exercises designed for sitting at a desk: - Interlace your fingers above your head with palms facing upward. Push your arms slightly backward and upward. Hold the stretch for 10-20 seconds. - Sit with your arms hanging loosely at your side. Turn your head to one side, then the other. Hold for five seconds each side. Repeat one to three times. - Sit with your fingers interlaced behind your head, elbows straight out to sides. Pull shoulders blades together to create tension through upper back and shoulder blades. Hold five seconds and release. Repeat one to three times. - Interlace your fingers and turn palms out. Extend arms in front at shoulder level. Hold for 20-30 seconds, relax, and repeat. - Gently squeeze a tennis ball or other rubber ball that offers resistance. Repeat several times. - Slip a heavy-duty rubber band over the fingers of both hands but not the thumbs. Place your hands together, palms facing each other. The rubber band should not be over the knuckles. Keep your elbows at your side; slowly pull your hands apart until the rubber band will not stretch any further. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat four to eight times. - Place a large rubber band around one of the legs of your chair. Slip one foot into the rubber band. Position the rubber band in front of the chair at ankle height. Slowly extend your lower leg upward, until the rubber band is stretched to its limit. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat four to eight times each leg. WORKING OUT AT WORK--PART 5 OF 5: 3O-MINUTE GYM ROUTINE If you're fortunate enough to have an exercise facility at your work site, you can schedule 30 minutes at lunchtime or save your breaks for a 30-minute exercise period at the end of the day. Divide your session into four parts: - Schedule 20 minutes of aerobic exercise. This may include the use of a treadmill, exercise bike, Stairmaster, or any other cardiorespiratory exercise machine. If using the treadmill, exercise at the rate of three to four miles per hour with a three to five percent incline. - Include upper body weight training exercises for the arms, shoulder, chest, and back. - Include lower body weight training exercises for the quads, hamstrings, and gluteals. - Include abdominal exercises (varying types of curl-ups or crunches). BALANCE--PART 1 0F 3: STATIC AND DYNAMIC Balance is a component of skill-related fitness. It's the ability to keep an upright position, while either standing still or moving. There are two types balance--static and dynamic. Balance during standing or seated positions is called static balance, and balance while moving is called dynamic balance. The body's ability to maintain balance is a great neuromuscular feat. Your body is able to sense where you are in space and maintain an upright position. All the visual, inner ear, and muscular information must be integrated to keep you in an upright position, whether stationary or moving. Balance also helps you to move around objects, climb hills or stairs, walk on uneven surfaces, or reach for objects. It helps you to avoid falling or reduces injury by "breaking" a fall. It's a crucial skill for athletes and is often sports-specific (ice skaters must develop a level of balance different from the type of balance needed by soccer players). A lack of static balance makes it difficult to reach for objects above the head or to stand with the feet close together. Lack of dynamic balance results in unsteady walking, difficulty in going up and down stairs, or difficulty climbing or stepping over obstacles. Balance can be improved through training, by participating in sports, or through a variety of movement activities. BALANCE--PART 2 OF 3: EXERCISES The following are exercises to develop static balance (stationary balance while sitting or standing): - Stand with both feet in a comfortable position. Rise up on toes of both feet and hold for 10 seconds. Repeat. - Stand on one foot and place the other foot on the inside of supporting knee. Balance for 10 seconds. Repeat using the other foot. - Stand on one foot. Raise the other foot to the front, keeping your body still. Return your foot to the floor. - Stand on one foot. Lift the other foot behind you, keeping your body still. Return foot to the floor. Stand on one foot. Raise the other foot in front of you. Return your foot to the floor. Repeat sequence with opposite foot. The following are exercises to develop dynamic balance (balance while moving): - Walk slowly while balancing a book on your head. When you are able to do this, balance a book on your head while going up and down stairs. - Step up and down on one step while holding a glass of water in both hands. Gradually build up speed without spilling the water. - Walk and increase your stride length and speed. BALANCE--PART 3 OF 3: GYMNASTIC BALLS Gymnastic balls (Swiss balls) are large, vinyl, air-filled balls used for improving balance. They're a safe and effective way of improving balance. Originally, they were used in physical therapy sessions but are now gaining popularity as a piece of exercise equipment. Exercises have been designed for use with the balls for general back, abdominal, shoulder, and leg strengthening. The exerciser performs the activity while sitting or lying in a prone position on the ball. Balance is the key to maintaining correct position while performing the exercises. Gymnastic balls are especially helpful with developing back strength, reducing bad posture, reducing poor body mechanics, and eliminating inflexibility. Over a period of time, both anterior and posterior muscle groups of the spine will improve. LEUCINE Branch-chained amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are part of the essential eight amino acids grouping, which cannot be made in the body but must be taken in daily through dietary or supplemental intake. This group of amino acids consists of L-leucine, L-Isoleucine, and L-valine. A deficiency in any one of these amino acids will cause muscle loss. Unlike other amino acids, branch-chain amino acids are metabolized in the muscle and not the liver. A recent report in the "Journal of Nutrition" states that leucine, found in protein-rich foods, can speed muscle recovery after exercise. For the person exercising at high levels, researchers recommend protein-rich foods such as energy bars, energy drinks, or lean meats as soon after exercise as possible. However, the daily protein consumption should be between 1.4 and 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight. This is approximately 20 to 30 percent of the daily calories. Researchers do not recommend the use of leucine in supplement form, since the exact amount of leucine needed for muscle recovery remains unclear. LIGHT EXERCISE Strenuous workouts will improve athletic performance, but this doesn't mean these types of workouts will give you a great health advantage. Research indicates that there is very little difference in the death rates from coronary heart disease, cancer, and the other combined causes between moderate exercisers and heavy exercisers; however, there is a great difference in the death rates of inactive people and moderate exercisers. There are advantages of moderate exercise over strenuous exercise. Generally, we are able to sustain moderate exercise for a longer time. If you're using exercise for weight control, the longer you're able to exercise, the more calories you'll burn. For example, most people can walk for a longer period of time than they can jog. A three-mile walk will burn approximately 300 calories; a one-mile jog will burn about 100 calories. In addition, moderate exercise reduces stress, anxiety, high blood pressure, and the risk of adult onset diabetes as effectively as strenuous exercise. OVERWORKED EYES--PART 1 OF 3 Optometrists and ophthalmologists often dispute the effectiveness of vision therapy. Some physicians believe vision therapy will improve vision skills, making the eyes more efficient and accurate; others believe that research has not proved vision therapy to be beneficial. However, most physicians agree that some eye exercises will reduce eyestrain, the result of overworked eyes from artificial light and computer use. Eyestrain, over a period of time, can lead to blurred vision, eye irritation, headaches, migraines, neck tension, and wrinkles. Many professional athletic teams have used vision therapy to improve hand-eye coordination in sports performance. To read information on eye exercises, go to OVERWORKED EYES--PART 2 OF 3 When fatigue occurs, you tend to blink less, which causes your eyes to produce an insufficient amount of tears. The body will compensate by increasing the blood flow to the eyes, resulting in bloodshot eyes. - Keep a bottle of artificial tears with you and squirt a few drops into your eyes whenever they feel dry. - Look down at your work rather than up; it makes blinking easier. - Close your eyes every half hour for a few seconds to give your eyes a rest. - Shift focus to a distant object every few minutes. - Place cold cotton pads on eyes or cold soda cans during your breaks. Many people who work at computers find that they need prescription eyewear different from that they use for reading or for distance. Check with your eye specialist if you feel eyestrain while working at a computer. OVERWORKED EYES--PART 3 OF 3 Ultraviolet light can damage the eyes when too much exposure occurs. Snowblindness results from a brief but intense exposure to ultraviolet light. Symptoms usually include eye pain, light sensitivity, tearing, and a sensation that something is in the eye. These symptoms usually go away after about 24 hours. Many people refer to this as "sunburn" of the eye. Other exposure to ultraviolet light over an extended period of time may produce eye deterioration, cataracts, and loss of sight during aging. The use of suntanning booths can lead to eye deterioration. There is no type of protective sunglasses that will give enough protection. Also, fluorescent lighting in office buildings should be properly fitted with ultraviolet-absorbing plastic panels to prevent exposure to UV light. Sunglasses with 100 percent blockage of ultraviolet rays are considered the best. Large-framed wraparound sunglasses can protect your eyes from all angles. To read more about various kinds of sunglasses, go to THE SIX STAGES OF CHANGE James Prochaska, PhD, in his book "Changing for Good" (William Morrow and Company, New York, 1994), has developed six stages for change. His approach has been successfully used by the National Cancer Institute to help people stop smoking, the National Institutes for Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse to help people stop drinking, and by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to curb behavior that leads to HIV infection. The following are his six stages of change: 1. Precontemplation: Precontemplators have no current intention of changing. They have a feeling of hopeless, and they use denial and defensiveness to keep from going forward. 2. Contemplation: Contemplators accept or realize that they have a problem and begin to think seriously about changing it. 3. Preparation: Most people in this stage are planning to take action within a month. Prepares develop a firm, detailed scheme for action. 4. Action: This is the overt change of behavior. The person takes action and makes a commitment. 5. Maintenance: Often more difficult to achieve than action, maintenance can last six months to a lifetime. 6. Termination: The problem no longer presents any temptation. Some experts say termination never occurs, only that maintenance becomes less vigilant over time. The key is to remember that change is a process and oftentimes does not occur without problems. It's important not to get caught up in self-blame for lapses but to use the experience as help for future experiences. WINTER SUN The winter sun can be brutal on the skin. The ultraviolet light (electromagnetic radiation of shorter wavelengths than visible light) from the sun can severely damage your skin. There are three types of ultraviolet light: UVA, UVB, and UVC. Sunburn is not as likely in the winter due to fact that UVB light is not as intense in the winter. However, UVA light is not as reduced during the winter, and its rays are linked to premature aging and melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. At higher elevations, such as the location of many ski resorts, the snow reflects more UVA and UVB radiation. It's important to wear a sunblock of 30 SPF or more.

Coordination is a skill-related component of fitness. It's the ability to integrate eye, hand, and foot movements. Activities such as tennis, golf, and baseball require a high level of coordination. Coordination can be improved by practicing the skill you want to develop. For example, basketball players need to practice dribbling the ball and shooting to develop hand-eye coordination. Also, it's important to practice skills you want to improve with both left and right sides of the body.
An energy bar, a piece of fruit, or a sports drink 15 to 45 minutes before exercising will increase your energy level. You will have two fuel sources for energy: blood glucose (blood sugar) and muscle glycogen (sugar stored in the muscle). Research indicates it may take up to 24 hours after exercise to replace glycogen stores in the muscles, resulting in body fatigue. Most nutritionists recommend a piece of fruit or a complex carbohydrate (a half of a bagel) within 30 minutes of working out. You may require a carbohydrate-rich meal an hour or so after a strenuous exercise session.
The following is a list of some of the fitness programs on TV. Check local listings for day and time. - American Health and Fitness on Fox Sports - American Muscle, ESPN - Bodies in Motion, Sports Channel - Body Electric, PBS - Body Shaping, ESPN2 - Co-Ed Training, ESPN2 - Crunch Fitness, ESPN2 - Gotta Sweat, ESPN2 - Kiana's Flex Appeal, ESPN2 - Muscle Sport USA, Fox Sport - Wai Lana Yoga, PBS For a listing of daily fitness programs on TV, go to
Researchers have found in pregnant women with high cholesterol that the fetus may show signs of heart vessel blockage. This may be an indication of the possibility of a later heart attack. The U.S. Health Service has determined that 40 percent of American children from five to eight years old show at least one health risk sign of cardiovascular disease. Studies indicate that 50 percent of girls and 30 percent of boys in the U.S. cannot run a mile in less than ten minutes. This information, along with the fact that only 36 percent of American children are enrolled in daily physical education classes, indicate that a large majority of future adults will suffer from some type of heart disease at an early age. To change the fitness level of a child, one hour of physical activity is needed every day. Parents are required to take a more active role in the development of physical fitness in their children to meet this basic requirement. Personal trainers, sports clubs, fitness facilities, and family fitness activities are ways to ensure this need is met. Also, parents should encourage their local schools to include daily physical education programs from kindergarten through twelfth grade with a qualified physical education instructor. Many school facilities remain unused after school hours and during the summer months. Planned programs with supervision for children and families in these facilities could increase the fitness of the whole community.
Obtaining fitness has its obstacles; you must remember to keep focused on your goals. It will be necessary to develop flexibility with your daily routine. Here are some suggestions: - In bad weather, play indoor sports, walk at a mall, or exercise to a video. - If "out of the mood to exercise," call a friend to exercise with you. - If dissatisfied with your progress, look back to where you started and how far you have come. - If busy, remember exercise will give you an energy boost and reduce stress. - If sore, take a warm bath or shower. Each ache is a step in progress. - If discouraged, read an exercise book or article. Your health is worth the time and energy it takes to include physical activity. Plan activity as a fun part of your day; walk or hike with friends, participate in a sport, jog, or ride a bike. The emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual rewards will bring joy and good health into your life.
Here's a test to determine how coordinated you are. You'll need three 24-inch dowel rods of 1/2-inch thickness. Practice the following test three times before beginning to record your scores. Write down your scores for four trials. Stick test for coordination: 1. Hold one stick in each hand. Support a third stick across the other two. 2. Toss the supported stick in the air so that it makes a half turn. 3. Catch it with the sticks you are holding in your hands. It's an error if the "tossed" stick hits your hand. You may bend your knees during the toss and catch. 4. Do this test five times, tossing the stick to the right and left five times each for a total of ten times. 5. Score one point for each successful catch. Keep track of your scores for four trials. Your best score is used for the following evaluation: Excellent - 9 to 10 points Good - 7 to 8 points Fair - 4 to 6 points Poor - less than 4
Steroids are drugs prescribed by physicians for anemia, inadequate growth patterns, chronic diseases, and recovery from surgery or burns. Anabolic steroids function in the same manner as the male sex hormone testosterone to produce increases in weight, strength, endurance, and aggressiveness. Steroids can be taken in pill form or by injection. Over the last few years, public awareness of the dangers of illegal steroid use has increased due to the media's coverage of its use by bodybuilders, track athletes, and football players. The possibility of life-threatening side effects and adverse reactions places steroids in a highly dangerous category. These effects include heart palpitations, certain forms of cancer, liver complications, and psychological disturbances. Many organizations (among them the National Collegiate Athlete Association, National Football League, and International Olympic Committee) have banned steroids and are testing athletes for illegal use. Yet, it's estimated that approximately 17 to 20 percent of college athletes and over one million people in the United States are steroid abusers.
Several adverse effects occur in both men and women who use anabolic steroids. These drugs can cause mood swings in both genders, resulting in increased hostility, aggression, and violence known by abusers as "roid rage." In women, large doses of steroids can increase facial hair growth, cause baldness, increase deepening of the voice, decrease breast size, enlarge the clitoris, and change or cause a cessation of menstruation. In men, steroids can increase facial and body hair growth, decrease the body's production of testosterone, and cause atrophy of the testicles. In addition to the sexual changes, there are many possible dangers to the organs and systems of the body. Acne, elevated cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, kidney disease, liver tumors, and immune system deficiencies are all possible results of steroid use.
Anabolic steroids can produce euphoria, diminish fatigue, and increase bulk and power in both sexes. These qualities can make steroids addictive. Researchers at Yale University have determined that long-term users of anabolic steroids experience the characteristics of classic addiction: cravings, difficulty in ceasing steroid use, and withdrawal symptoms. Certain delusional behavior that is characteristic of addiction may occur. Athletes on steroids may be unaware of body changes that are obvious to others, such as reverse anorexia. Many users, when they stop using steroids, undergo psychological withdrawal, mainly caused by the loss of the physique they were accustomed to during the drug use. Also, steroid users tend to overlook or simply ignore the physical dangers and moral implications of taking illegal substances. Denial is a basic trait of all addictions.
Highly competitive activities are usually poor stress diversion activities. However, if you can participate in an activity without being caught up in winning or losing, the activity can be very beneficial for relieving stress. The benefits from the following activities are very personal. These activities are categorized by how a majority of people would view the activity. HIGH BENEFITS Backpacking/hiking Bicycling Canoeing Aerobic dance Social dance Horseback riding Judo/karate MEDIUM BENEFITS Archery Billiards/pool Bowling Gymnastics Softball Table tennis Volleyball LOW BENEFITS Badminton Basketball Football Golf Racquetball Soccer Tennis In addition to the above, the following belong in the high-stress-reduction category: sailing, skating, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, surfing, swimming, water skiing, and weight training.
The activity pyramid is a means of incorporating physical activity into your daily life. The pyramid is divided into four layers: 1. Everyday activities 2. Activities 3-5 times a week 3. Activities 2-3 times a week 4. Ways to cut down on sitting Everyday activities or Level 1 make up the base of the pyramid. These are activities you should try to include in your everyday life: walking the dog, taking the stairs, and working in the garden. Level 2 focuses on the activities we need to do two or three times a week, such as bicycling, brisk walking, swimming, dancing, and tennis. At Level 3, the focus is on strength, stretching, and leisure activities. Golf, bowling, yardwork, stretching, and weight lifting are examples of activities to participate in two or three times a week. The last level looks at activities we should cut down on, such as sitting. To examine the pyramid and receive more information, check out
The following are questions that can help you evaluate your fitness program. Start with 100 points and subtract points for deficiencies. Answer yes or no to questions. - Does your program include sufficient aerobic exercise for cardiorespiratory fitness (at least, 20 minutes, three days per week)? If no, minus 10. - Does your program include strength and muscular endurance exercises, such as push-ups and abdominal crunches? If no, minus 5. Are there strength exercises for all major muscle groups? If not, minus 5. - Does your program include flexibility exercises? If no, minus 10. - Does your program allow for varying fitness levels, such as starting out slowly and working your way up? If no, minus 10. - Does your program take a reasonable time at each session--at least 20 minutes but not more than an hour--at least three days per week? If no, minus 10. - Does your program include a warm-up and cool-down? If no to either, minus 5; if no to both, minus 10. - Can the program be performed with only basic equipment, such as shoes, small weights, or a jump rope? If no, minus 10. - Is the your program safe? Do you have sufficient knowledge to design your own fitness program? Or have you had your program checked by a fitness specialist? Are the principles for training included in your program? If no, minus 10. - Are you using a program made by a promoter that is not backed up by research? Such as "no work fitness," "cures your heart disease," or "redistributes your cellulite"? If yes, minus 10. - Does the program promote a lifetime fitness plan based on a variety of enjoyable activities? If no, minus 10. Source: Lori Turner and co-authors, "Life Choices," (New York: West Publishing, 1992), adapted from Table 7-3, pp. 189.
Insulin's role in the body is to help glucose (blood sugar) enter the cells, where it's used for energy. The two main classifications of diabetes are Type I (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus) and Type II (non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus). Type I develops mainly in children, teenagers, and young adults. It's the result of the autoimmune system of the body destroying the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Often Type I diabetes will develop in a young person after an illness in which the immune system of the body has been challenged (such as the flu). The pancreas does not produce insulin, and the glucose builds up in the bloodstream. People with Type I must take injections daily and monitor their blood sugar levels very closely. Type II diabetes usually occurs in adults after the age of 45. The pancreas produces insulin but does not make enough, and the cells do not use the insulin properly. People with this type of diabetes cannot maintain a normal glucose level, especially after eating. This is referred to as insulin resistance. Type II diabetics may be able to control their blood glucose levels without medication. The amount of insulin resistance varies from person to person, and some will require medications along with diet and exercise. Diabetes is a progressive disease. The earlier Type II diabetes is diagnosed, the better the chance the person will be able to control glucose levels through diet and exercise.
Type I warning signs may occur very suddenly. Weight loss, increased thirst, hunger, fatigue, increased urination, and blurred vision are all signs of this type of diabetes. Type II diabetes often develops without any warning signs. Some people, however, will show signs, such as exhaustion; blurred vision; dry, itchy skin; tingling or loss of feeling in the hands or feet; non-healing infections of the skin, vagina, and/or bladder; and a mild increase in thirst, hunger, or urination. Other medical conditions can precede diabetes. High blood pressure and high blood lipids (fats) often exist along with Type II diabetes but may develop before the diabetes due to high insulin and glucose levels. Recent studies suggest elevated levels of insulin appear to make people more prone to blood clots, resulting in heart attacks and strokes. About 75 percent of people with Type II diabetes die of heart attacks and strokes. If you notice one or more symptoms of diabetes, contact your physician. A fasting blood test can be administered to detect blood sugar levels that are too high. Normal blood sugar results are below 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl). A result higher than 126 mg/dl suggests that you might have diabetes.
Regular exercise can help people with diabetes control their glucose levels. Also, it can help to control weight, which in turn, helps to improve insulin effectiveness. Flexibility exercises, strength training, low-intensity walking, aerobics, and cycling are excellent types of exercises that will help to keep insulin levels under control. However, it's important for a diabetic to monitor glucose before and after exercise to determine how different types of exercise affect glucose levels. Exercise will also control PAI-1 antigen, a chemical that impairs the body's ability to dissolve clots. With the latest research indicating that high levels of insulin and PAI-1 may lead to heart attacks and strokes, exercise will allow for a lowering of both of these chemicals in the blood. Lower levels of blood glucose may allow for less diabetic medication. It's important to consult a physician for suggestions on adjusting medication use.
Technology has made us too smart for our own good. We now can get out of bed, walk to our computers, and begin our workday. In the last hundred years, we have moved from manual labor to desktop workstations. All of this progress has made life physically easier but not always physically better. Many inactive people are constantly fatigued from the stress of the daily hassles, improper diet, and an out-of-condition body. One way to change an inactive lifestyle is to schedule old-fashioned Saturdays. Declare the first Saturday of the month a day to slow down and enjoy life. No television, no answering machines, no computers, no gadgets that make you feel the anxiety and stress of daily life. Instead, try a stroll in the neighborhood, planting flowers or a garden, repairing an old bicycle for future use, skating, cutting a neighbor's grass, or recreational play with your children. Taking the time to enjoy an old-fashioned Saturday may be the experience needed to keep balance and harmony in your life during the rest of the month.
Regular exercise is the key to preventing many diseases. Any sustained movement, like walking, bicycling, swimming, or cross-country skiing, will reduce the risk of several life-threatening diseases, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and possibly cancer. Exercise does not need to be boring, expensive, time-consuming, or inconvenient. Moderate forms of exercise will give the benefits needed to prevent disease. Gardening, dancing, walking, household chores, and even shopping expeditions can give you enough exercise to meet the daily requirement. All that's needed to personalize your fitness plan is a creative and adventurous spirit. Research has proven that aerobic activities can prevent some disease but that strength-training exercise may not be as beneficial. However, strength training is an excellent form of exercise for preventing osteoporosis. Weight-bearing or strength-training activities increase the flow of bone-hardening calcium into the skeleton. Studies have found the spinal bones of weightlifters to be approximately 15 percent denser than the bones of runners or people who don't exercise. While runners had denser thighbones than inactive people, the weightlifters' thighbones were even denser than the runners' by an additional 11 percent.
Because of technology, many people are looking to adventure vacations for a change from the long hours of sitting before a computer. Canoeing, kayaking, caving, mountain climbing, cycling, hiking, white-water rafting, and horseback riding are just a few of the physical activities that require outdoor activity. Many people find that this type of trip renews their spirit. You don't need to be in top physical shape or love the rugged outdoors to go on an adventure vacation. There are many travel agencies that gear their vacations to combine outdoor activities with great food and a comfortable bed. A new trend for some companies is ecotours. This type of adventure includes physical activities in the natural environment, but the activities will not exhaust the natural resources or damage the environment.
Some of the benefits of an adventure vacation are the daily physical workouts, experiencing the geography, and learning about the culture of the people. For many people, these vacations provide the opportunity to test inner drive and physical strength. For some, the ultimate adventure is experiencing a survival camp, the challenge of depending on self, nature, and companions for shelter, food, and safety. Not all adventure vacations require you to give up the luxuries associated with most vacations. Many tours plan a day of rugged activity with an evening of gourmet food and a night at a local inn or hotel. Some walking and cycling tours in Europe travel daily from one inn to the next inn. The evenings are spent gathering in local pubs meeting the people and talking with the people of the towns. Even for campers, tours will provide inflatable foam mattresses and high-quality tents to make the trip more enjoyable than the usual camping experience. The option of planning your own adventure trip around your favorite outdoor activity allows for personal needs and preferences. Researching the area, planning your overnight stays, providing an eating plan, and studying the hazards of the trip are essentials to planning your own adventure. Your own plan will allow for freedom of choice and a tighter budget.
Fitness levels needed for adventure vacations vary according to physical activities. A rule of thumb is that you should be able to complete one day's activities without total exhaustion. Generally, regular exercisers are the types of people who sign-up for adventure vacations. However, many tours are planned for people wanting a different experience and take into consideration the fitness levels of their customers. You can check with the individual tour operators if you have any questions regarding the level of fitness for the trip. If you are looking for a vacation that will test your limits, you need to find a tour that will be a challenge to you. To make sure that you're suited for your particular vacation, talk with at least three people that have already experienced the trip. Ask plenty questions of the tour operator about his/her experience and the safety operations of the company. Know ahead of time the procedures for injuries and illnesses. Ask if the company farms out its tours to other companies. Procedures can change if a company does this, and you may not receive the tour as it was planned. If you have flexibility in your planning, many companies reduce their rates for tours that are not filled in the last days before the tour. You may save money on a short tour at the last minute.
Basal metabolism is the process in which energy is produced by the body. The amount of energy used by the body at rest is called the basal metabolic rate, or the BMR. About 60 to 70 percent of the energy used by your body during the day is to maintain the body's systems, such as digestion of food, beating of the heart, breathing, maintaining body temperature, and many other life-sustaining functions. If you consume more calories than needed for basal metabolism, you will need to burn these calories off with some form of physical activity. Several factors determine the basal metabolic rate. Age is the one of most influencing factors; generally, the younger you are, the higher your BMR. This is due to the fact that during infancy and childhood there are many growth spurts requiring high amounts of calories. After you reach 30, your BMR slows down by a rate of one to two percent a year. It becomes increasingly harder to lose and keep weight off as you grow older. The "middle-age spread" is often a result of a slowing of the BMR and an inclination to be inactive. Another significant factor is the influence of your body composition. Muscle tissue is highly active even at rest. The more muscle tissue in your body, the higher your BMR. Men usually have a higher BMR because of their greater tendency toward lean muscle tissue. Hormones also play an important part in basal metabolism. The BMR is likely to change during puberty and pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
If you're a math wizard, you will zip through this part of our series on energy expenditure; if not, you may need a calculator. Step One: Estimate basal metabolic rate (BMR). To change body weight from pounds to kilograms, multiply your body weight by 2.2. The answer is your body weight in kilograms. Your answer is _____kg. To find your BMR, multiply your weight in kg by the BMR factor (1.0 males or .95 females). Your answer is _____ calories per hour. To find your BMR for 24 hours, multiply the calories per hour by 24. Your daily BMR is _____ calories. Your answer represents the number of calories needed daily for the functioning of your body at rest. You will need this answer for Step 2 in our next tip.
Here's in the next step in our series on energy expenditure. Step Two: Estimate the level of energy expended on physical activity (PA). Multiply your daily BMR (answer from Step 1, in our previous tip) by the energy cost factor. If you're sedentary (you sit most of the day; you stand two hours and move about slowly; you sew, study, or type), multiply your BMR by .30. If your activity is light (you do some walking and much standing but no strenuous exercise), multiply your BMR by .40. If your activity is moderate (you do considerable walking with little sitting but no limited strenuous exercise), multiply your BMR by .50. If your activity is strenuous (little sitting with fairly strenuous activity), multiply your BMR by .65. If your activity is very strenuous (little sitting with strenuous activity most of the day), multiply your BMR by .80. The answer is your PA. This answer represents the number of calories needed to maintain your weight with your daily activity. You will need your answers to Steps 1 and 2 for Step 3 in our next tip.
Here are the final steps in our series on energy expenditure. Step Three: Estimate the specific dynamic effect (SDE) of food. Add the daily BMR (Step 1) and the PA (Step 2). Multiply this answer by .10 to find the SDE. This answer represents the number of calories needed each day, including activity and the digestion of food. Step Four: Figure the sum of calories expended on BMR, PA, and SDE to obtain the total estimated energy expenditure. Add together the BMR, PA, and SDE. Your answer represents the total number of calories needed each day to maintain your present weight. Source: Strewn, Sarah S., Guide to Better Nutrition.
One method of goal setting is to develop a fitness self-care list at the beginning of each month. The following is a sample list for the month of April: APRIL: FITNESS SELF-CARE LIST _____ Take care of feet; buy new jogging shoes; give away any shoes that hurt. _____ Sit up straight while working at computer; take computer breaks every 30 minutes. _____ Exercise during commercials during one TV program each evening. _____ Plan a no-snacking day each week. _____ Schedule annual exam with family physician. _____ Ask a friend to go for a walk in the park. _____ Go to library and check out a fitness book; read the book. _____ Try a new sport or physical activity.
Climbing walls create indoors the characteristics of natural rock walls and cliffs. The popularity of this fitness activity is soaring, increasing the number of climbing walls found in gyms, colleges, and unusual places such as churches and science museums. Although climbing is an activity with a level of risk, the number of accidents at climbing walls is very low. Anyone can learn the techniques of indoor climbing with one orientation session familiarizing him or her with the climbing devices, the rope system, and the techniques. Indoor climbing appeals to people looking for a physical activity that requires "mind over matter." It's a sport where the mental edge is important and increased self-confidence is a result. In addition, improved strength, competition, and socialization appeal to people looking for an interesting way to add variety to their fitness program. Indoor climbing is not expensive. Equipment runs approximately $50 for a harness and $75 to $150 for shoes. Some indoor facilities rent the equipment and provide instruction. A $5 fee is the average amount charged for climbing the wall in facilities without a membership. To find the climbing wall located closest to you, go to
Children are born with an innate curiosity and a strong drive for physical fitness. In the past, most preschool children achieved physical fitness through exploring their environments. However, recent studies indicate that childhood obesity in the United States has increased in the last 20 years. The most important factor leading to obesity at any age is low physical activity. It's estimated that children from 2 to 5 years of age watch 25.5 hours of television per week. This TV time takes away large amounts of time that could be spent in vigorous physical activity. Another factor recently reported in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the rising rates of obesity due to the "super-sized" food portions at fast food restaurants. One study suggests that by the age of five, children will eat the amount of food given to them rather than the amount indicated by their hunger. Eating large amounts of food when not hungry results in a harmful food pattern that leads to childhood and adult obesity. Parents can help their children acquire the exercise habits needed for lifelong wellness by monitoring their children's environment. The critical time for laying the foundation of skills needed by children is from the ages of two to five. Research also suggests that parents allow children to determine how much they eat and not force them to eat everything on their plates.
Power is a skilled-related factor of physical fitness. It's the ability to perform strength movements at a rapid pace. Strength and speed are both involved in power. Physical activities that require power are baseball, basketball, football, gymnastics, judo, karate, rowing, and cross-country skiing. The standing long jump is a test for power. To do this test, you'll need a line on the floor, a tape measure, and a partner. The test is as follows: First, stand with both feet behind the starting line on the floor. Swing the arms forward, and jump as far as possible with both feet together. Do not run or hop before you jump. Have your partner measure from the starting line to the nearest point where any part of your body touched the floor during the landing. Try the test twice--your best score counts. Scoring: Men: Excellent--87 inches or more, Good--80 to 86 inches, Fair--70 to 79 inches, Poor--below 69 inches. Women: Excellent--74 inches or more, Good--66 to 73 inches, Fair--8 to 65 inches, Poor--below 57 inches.
Research from Louisiana State University and Brigham Young University indicates that stretching before lifting weights can cause a loss of strength. Light aerobic exercise (bicycling, treadmill, rope jumping) is recommended in place of stretching. However, research also indicates that people who stretch after lifting weights will increase strength. The South Shore YMCA, Quincy, MA conducted a ten-week study and found that male weightlifters who stretched after training increased their strength by 54 percent; those who didn't stretch only increased strength by 29 percent. Source: Vitality; January 2000, page 10, and Vitality; November 1999, page 20. (Vitality Magazine, 8080 N. Central Ave., Dallas, TX 75206)
One way to keep working on your fitness is to volunteer for community projects that require physical activity. In addition to feeling terrific for contributing your time and talent to a good cause, you will also feel great due to the benefits of performing the exercise. Here are some ways to give to your community and to yourself: - Participate in a community walk/run for a nonprofit organization. - Volunteer to keep a highway or street clean of trash or debris. - Cut the grass, or rake the yard of an elderly or ill person. - Help build or repair a house for a disadvantaged family. - Coach a youth team and perform the exercises with the team. - Plant a flower garden and take cut flowers to local nursing home. - Volunteer to play games with the children at a local homeless shelter.
Jogging in a pool is one of the most popular methods of keeping fit, especially for pregnant women, obese individuals, or people in rehabilitation after an injury. Water exercise is a form of non-impact aerobics that tones muscles through progressive resistance. For pregnant women, the water keeps the body cool and the fetus at a safe temperature. Many non-swimmers find jogging in a pool, even in the shallow end, very scary. A product called the Aqua-Jogger, a semi-flotation belt worn around the waist, keeps the jogger in an upright position. The belt allows the jogger to move around the pool at any pace or heart rate. The Aqua-Jogger costs about $50.
Thanks for the reader comment: "I would suggest, if you can, that you give some more tips on the role of sodium in one's diet, and its many sources." Sodium is an essential nutrient used to regulate fluid and blood pressure, but is not made by the body. The minimum amount of sodium chloride (salt) needed daily by the human body is 500 mg. The Nutrition Board of the Natural Academy of Sciences recommends a range of 1100 mg to 3300 mg with 2400 mg the daily average. Most Americans consume more than 6000 mg a day, resulting in high blood pressure, kidney or liver disease, and edema (the retention of body fluids). The overuse of salt often happens without the person being aware of the amount he or she is consuming. How do you know if you're eating the recommended amount of sodium? If you had the time and desire, you could count your sodium intake by keeping track of the foods you eat and calculating the amount. An easier way to reduce sodium is to control the amount or limit the following foods: pork products such as ham and bacon, hot dogs, luncheon meats, sausages, all shellfish, breads and cereals containing salt, cheese and salted butter or margarine, and certain vegetables, including celery and sauerkraut. Foods lower in salt are the following: skim milk, eggs, beef, veal, lamb, poultry, fish, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Some drugs and water filtered through a water softener may contain sodium, and you should avoid those when on a low-sodium diet.
The following are some suggestions for changing your daily sodium habits: - Read the labels to find the amount of sodium in each serving of any given product. - Use various spices to flavor your foods instead of salt or other sodium-containing flavor enhancers. - Make a herb shaker. Combine: 2 tsp. Thyme 1-1/2 tsp. Sage 2 tsp. Rosemary 2-1/2 tsp. Marjoram 2-1/2 tsp. Savory Use this combination to flavor vegetables, meats, fish, or poultry. - Drain and rinse canned foods to remove excess salt. - Convenience foods and fast food meals often contain more salt than home-cooked meals. If you eat a fast food lunch, select a low-sodium meal made with fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy foods, meats, and grains for dinner. - Always taste before salting food that you have cooked or when eating out. - Remove the saltshaker from the table.
Fast food meals can be high in sodium. The following are some examples: - McDonalds's: Quarter-Pound Cheeseburger, Large Fries, 16 oz. Soda = 1450 mg sodium - Domino's Pizza: Four slices Sausage and Mushroom pizza = 2302 mg sodium - Kentucky Fried Chicken: Two pieces Fried Chicken (Breast and Wing), Buttermilk Biscuit, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Corn on the Cob, 16-oz. Soda = 2276 mg sodium - Taco Bell: Taco Salad, 16 oz. Soda = 1620 mg sodium Some people are sodium sensitive, and excessive salt use will increase their blood pressure. To determine if you are one of these people, measure your blood pressure before and after eating a low-salt diet for a few weeks. Genetically, African Americans tend to be salt sensitive and should have their blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Remember: You need 500 mg of salt daily, and the recommended daily amount is approximately 2400 mg.
If you work out for more than one hour at a moderate to intense level and do not replace the water loss and calories burned, you'll probably feel fatigued. Once you reach this point, it's very hard to regain strength without allowing the body time for recuperation. In the past, scientists have not felt additional salt was needed during exercise, only water to replenish the lost body fluid from sweating. However, recent studies indicate salt is needed for the retaining of water taken in during exercise. Drinks containing salt are absorbed into the bloodstream faster and are retained in the body longer than plain water. This allows for a longer workout time. Sport drinks contain salt and are one method of replenishment. Foods containing salt, such as peanuts, eaten with plain water will also help your body to absorb, to hold water, and to give energy. One-half teaspoon to eight ounces of water will give the needed results. It's especially important to include salt in your drinks while exercising in hot weather. Always consult a physician if you have high blood pressure. Salt-sensitive people may experience an increase in blood pressure and need a physician's approval to increase salt intake.
Sports massage is an important strategy for prevention of injury, enhancement of performance, and as an aid in recovery after an athletic event. In the past few years, the level of athletic competition has gradually increased to a new high in many sports. Some of this is due to improved equipment, better nutrition, and increased psychological/physical knowledge of the body structure and function. Massage is one of the many therapies and treatments now available to increase performance level. No matter which sport a person trains in, the goal is to increase the level of performance. This goal subjects the body to gradual and controlled overuse. Overuse may create problems and imbalances in soft tissues. Massage can be an effective method of releasing tension and restoring circulation, lymph flow, and relaxation to the muscles. It's an important component of high-level performance.
Maintenance massage is based on keeping the athlete in top condition and injury free. The massage therapist's understanding of anatomy and kinesiology is necessary to help maintain and improve the range of motion and muscle flexibility for the athlete. Pre-event massage is used to enhance circulation and to reduce excess muscle and mental tension before competition. Post-event massage is used for reducing muscle spasms, toxic buildup, and to help the body return to pre-competition level. Deep-tissue massages should be scheduled at least 24 to 48 hours before or after a hard workout. Rehabilitation massage can help the athlete heal and reduce discomfort from the injury. Massage techniques used in combination with appropriate medical care can reduce the amount of secondary problems resulting from chronic or acute injuries.
Sport therapists must be trained in anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology as well as the correct techniques for the various kinds of massage. The Commission on Massage Training Accreditation (COMTA) is an accrediting association for massage therapy programs. Programs accredited by COMTA are requiring 500 hours of classroom instruction in the above requirements plus First Aid and CPR. The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork requires the highest level of credentials in the massage therapy field. This certification includes testing in ethics and a practicum in technique. Continuing education is also required to keep the certification at a current status. When selecting a therapist, check the person's credentials, experience, and recommendations from medical professionals associated with the athletics and sports. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) provides a national massage therapist locator service at
Fitness Witness
Do you want to look and feel better? Get in shape? Or simply lose weight? Fitness Online [] asks you for your priorities, then tailors its exercise, nutrition, and other health stories and links for you. Maybe you have a more specialized goal, such as a healthy pregnancy. Again, you'll see the relevant information.
One-Drug Nag
Steer clear of online drugstores that have only one or a few drugs. You're safer with a full-service drugstore that offers hundreds and thousands of medications. The one-drug outfit can too-easily be a garage operation pushing questionable pills.
Pill Planet [] is just what it sounds like: a new planet near Neptune. No, seriously, it's an online pharmacy. You browse to the site, type in the name of the drug you need, the dose, whether or not it's a refill, then add your address, credit-card number, and prescription number. Then you wait, for one to five days, while the site verifies the prescription with your doctor. Standard shipping adds another few days -- or you can pay extra for overnight delivery.
Sand Kicker
He changed his name from Angelo Siciliano and changed his physique from 97-lb weakling to man-you-didn't-mess-with-at-the-beach. And he decided to share the secrets with the world, or at least the world that read the back pages of magazines and comic books. Charles Atlas [] is still selling his dynamic-tension exercise system at his Web site.
A recent study from the University of North Carolina (Greensboro) indicated that breast-feeding women, who lose weight by dieting and exercise between the fourth and 14th week after giving birth, will not hinder the development of the infant's weight and height. This study included women with a body mass index of at least 25; women with a lower body mass index may obtain different results. The women in the study were averaging one pound a week of weight loss. Some physicians and nutritionists do not agree with the results of this study and recommend waiting four to six months before beginning a weight loss program. At that time, the mother is no longer the only source for nutrition of the infant. To read a related article, go to
Our New Year's resolutions are usually on the back burner by now. It's time to re-check our fitness goals and to make new ones for the springtime. There are many outdoor activities to refresh a fitness program. The change to daylight savings time will give more hours to the day for physical activity. Outdoor activities can give a variety of new challenges. Now may be the time to sign up for a new sport and to take some lessons, or to sign up for a sport league. This is a great time for family activity. Plan some fun challenges to do outdoors in the evenings with your family. Keep a record of each person's personal best. It's time to make new goals for the spring months and to refresh your commitment to fitness.
Mountain bike riding is an excellent method to obtain cardiovascular fitness. The ideal situation is to become fit enough to maintain your target aerobic zone for two hours of bike riding. The ideal target aerobic zone is 80 percent of your maximum heart rate. To begin your bike ride, warm up with a 10-minute stretching session and a five-minute heart warm-up ride on level ground. For the first 10 minutes of your ride, keep your heart rate within ten beats of your target heart rate. Work up to 30-45 minute sessions, three to four times a week. Do not increase your time and intensity too quickly. Start on level ground for the first several weeks before you begin any hill work. The key is to allow your body to condition itself at its own rate. Listen to the signs and signals it's giving you. Give yourself at least six weeks to see an improvement in energy, stamina, and strength. Always reverse your warm-up for a cool-down at the end of your ride. Remember: You're conditioning the cardiovascular system to be more efficient and training your body to burn fat--and this takes many sessions. A term used in cycling is spinning, the number of revolutions of the wheel per minute. The number of RPMs for mountain biking is around 60-80. This is the optimal cadence, but you need to establish a cadence that you can sustain during your ride. Your cadence will change as you go up and down hills and come to full stops and starts. Your cadence must be one you can return to after changes. It's important to understand the basics of shifting gears. You must be able to shift into a gear that is comfortable and efficient to pedal in. If you're pedaling too slowly, you're wasting energy; pedaling too fast results in aerobic/endurance fatigue. To improve your fitness through hill work, start on short hills. Most cyclists will move up the hill by taking it easy on the first part and pushing on the last part. However, some will go hard on the first part and take it easy the rest of the way up the hill. You must determine the method easiest for you. A jump is a short, fast burst of speed (a sprint). Interval training using jumps is one way to improve fitness. On one of the days during the week, do five to seven jumps. Find a flat stretch of land and simply stand up out of the seat and increase your speed until you reach full speed. Keep it up for 10-15 seconds and then return to your regular speed. Don't lower your speed below your regular pace. Repeat this several times during the course of an hour or better ride. Here are some tips to get the most from your mountain biking experience: - Don't lock your elbows. Locking the elbows will lead to sore neck muscles. Beginning riders often lock the elbows in order to take stress off the back. However, locked elbows will cause the arms and shoulders to become rigid, which results in sore neck muscles. - Take frequent breaks. If you're not used to riding in a bent position, take breaks to stretch your back and neck muscles. - Use your gears. You want your cadence to be right for you. You don't want to go too fast or too slow. Use your gears to maintain a consistent cadence that you can handle. - Scan the terrain when riding off-road. Keep your attention on what is coming up ahead and directly in front of your front tire. - Use a crouch position for downhill riding. This is the basic, off-the-saddle position when going downhill or over an obstacle. - Wear gloves. Gloves will protect you from cuts from a fall. In addition, gel-padded gloves will protect you from the bike's constant vibration, which can cause injury to the nerves of the hands and arms.
A common condition in older adults is osteoporosis. This condition is characterized by a thinning and deterioration of bone tissue that increases the risk of a bone fracture. Women are more prone to have this condition due to the fact that they tend to live longer than men, they have lower bone mass than men, and they lose bone mass at an accelerated rate after menopause as their estrogen levels decrease. Women and men have a lot to gain by remaining physically active as they grow older. Bone mass levels are significantly higher in active individuals in comparison to sedentary people. Bone responds to the demands placed on it by building more bone mass. The recommended physical activities are walking, dancing, jogging, stair-climbing, racquet sports, and hiking. However, you can achieve physical activity's full benefits only when you have the proper hormone levels present (estrogen in women, testosterone in men). A healthy diet, regular exercise, and calcium supplements will help to maintain bone mass although it is harder to achieve as we age. For information on the exercise video "BeBoneWise: Official Exercise Video of the National Osteoporosis Foundation," see
Many people prefer sports drinks to water because they taste better and it's easier to drink them more often. If the sports drink contains a small amount of sugar, sodium, and potassium, the drink will effectively hydrate the person. The following facts are important to consider when using a sports drink: - Sports drinks should contain between 14 and 19 grams of carbohydrates per eight-ounce serving (six to eight percent). A drink with more than ten percent carbohydrates may cause slow absorption, nausea, cramps, or diarrhea. A drink with five percent or less sugar solution may not provide enough additional energy to increase exercise length. - Carbonation causes stomach bloating. Dilute carbonated drinks to half-strength. - The correct sodium level is 100-110 milligrams per eight ounces. Sodium content in sports drinks can range from eight to 116 milligrams. - Fruit juices have a 10-15 percent carbohydrate level and need to be diluted. Mix one part juice to seven parts water. - You do not sweat out vitamins; there's no need to buy drinks that include vitamins. - Water is adequate for exercise under one hour. However, if the exercise is intense or lasts more than an hour, a sports drink will be beneficial. - If you're participating in a sports event lasting four hours or more, you need a sports drink that contains from 110 to 120 milligrams of sodium.
The sporting goods industry is setting aside money to lobby for federal legislation that would encourage school districts to increase the amount of physical education in the schools. The industry fears the lack of consumers in the future due to the inactivity of today's school children. At the present time, Illinois is the only state that requires daily physical education from kindergarten to 12th grade. In many schools, physical education is the first program to be eliminated when there's a lack of funds. The importance of lifelong fitness is grossly underrated in the United States. The increase in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and early death is the result of the lack of awareness of the importance of physical activity. Research has found that 60 percent of adults who exercise 250 or more days a year reported that high school physical education classes had contributed to their decision to be active later in life. It's important to develop within children the interest to become physically active and to stay active. Schools must emphasize the importance of a healthy body and a healthy mind. Otherwise, computer games will dominate playtime and children will become sedentary.
Approved Pharmacies
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy [] keeps a list of approved online drugstores. This isn't the be-all and end-all. It's only the stores that have voluntarily sought and received NABP approval. Still, it's comforting when a store has more official recognition such as this.
Quack Attack
Quackwatch [] is a funny name for a serious game: attacking and exposing fraud in medicine. When you consider investing your money or your future personal health future in some treatment or procedure, maybe you should first run it by Quackwatch.
Take Two, With a Grain of Salt
Chances are a specialized store such as [] won't have much negative to say about, well, its specialty -- in this case, about vitamins. Still, there are some experts at such a site full of advice and concern. And there are often special buying features -- at you can set up an auto-reorder facility so that vitamins arrive when you need them.
Achoo [] is a free search site for health and medical information online. From Alternative Medicine to Anatomy, Exercise to Ethics, you will be hard pressed to find a site with healthier links.
Overseas Oversight
Online pharmacies with headquarters outside the United States can be much looser than those inside the U.S. For example, they may not require any prescription at all. The upside to this is freedom to do what you want, to get drugs you believe you should have without a doctor interfering. The downside to this is freedom to ruin your health, taking drugs that may be inappropriate or even toxic for you. And even if the drugs may have been right if prescribed and sold inside the U.S., the lack of regulation of dosage, manufacturing-quality, information and packaging can all turn potential solutions into threatening dangers.
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