Health

Exercising in the Heat: Tips to Stay Safe

Question: “My primary forms of exercise are jogging and biking. Are there any special precautions I should take when exercising in extremely hot and humid conditions?” Four primary factors—air temperature, humidity, wind velocity and thermal radiation—interact to determine the level of heat stress imposed on the human body when exercising outdoors. For example, jogging on …

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Rating the Aerobic Exercises

Question: “Which aerobic exercise is most beneficial in terms of burning calories and improving fitness? How do you rate them? I want to get the most benefit for time invested.” The key to realizing the many benefits aerobic exercise has to offer, including calorie burn, can be summed up in one word: consistency. It is …

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Mysterious Melanoma

In 2010, Thomas Lauritzen and his second oldest daughter both began treatment for melanoma, diagnosed with the condition only a month apart. “Our melanomas were almost identical in size and in the same location (shoulder blade area),” Lauritzen said. The father and daughter would spend the next year going to UPMC for infusions of the …

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Diet or Exercise: Which Is More Important for Weight Loss?

Question: “I have been exercising and trying to improve my diet to lose weight but am not having success. When it comes to weight loss, is diet or exercise more important?” Adequately answering this question requires a clear understanding of why we pack on extra pounds, what must be done to lose excess weight, and …

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The Home Gym

Question: “I want to get stronger, but I don’t like the gym scene. Can I build significant muscle mass at home without weight machines?” The short answer to your question is “yes,” assuming that you incorporate the essential elements of a successful strength (resistance) training program into your workouts. The first step in the process …

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Key Elements to Getting FIT(T)

Question: “Recently, I have begun running 10K races. I enjoy running and want to improve my race times. Aside from mileage, what other factors should I consider when making my workout plan?” To improve aerobic (cardiovascular) fitness, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends a workout regimen that adheres to the FITT-VP principle of …

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Physical Activity vs. Physical Fitness

Question: “I do not enjoy nor have the time to do formal workouts on a regular basis, but I think that I am an active person overall. I walk, hike and enjoy gardening. How hard do I need to exercise to get any benefits from the activity?” What we are really discussing here is the …

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How to Set SMART Fitness Goals

Question: “I would like to get in better physical shape. I’ve tried to do this in the past but have always had trouble staying with an exercise program for any length of time. Any suggestions to help me stick with it?” Transforming fitness resolutions into reality will not occur by chance. That is where the …

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Tips for Meeting Your 2020 Weight Loss Goals

Question: “I have been a yo-yo dieter for many years—losing weight, gaining it back, then switching to another diet and repeating the process! One of my New Year’s resolutions is to lose 15 pounds over the next year and maintain the weight loss. Can you provide helpful tips that will finally enable me to achieve …

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Is Exercising Dangerous in Cold Weather?

Question: “Is it dangerous to exercise outdoors in extremely cold temperatures? I like to walk and jog year-round and am worried that breathing frigid air can cause lung damage.” The human body is designed to function in cold weather and has mechanisms that ensure the air we breathe is at body temperature and humidified when …

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Is it Really Better to Give than to Receive?

Dr. Gary Swanson has been the recipient of two gifts given in his honor: a goat donated to a family in Africa and trees planted along the streets of Detroit. As someone who likes goats and hails from Detroit, he appreciates the thoughtfulness behind these gifts. But, research shows it was the gift giver who …

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Climbing Past the Weight-Loss Plateau

Question: “I’ve been on an exercise plan for several months and have lost 20 pounds. I still hope to lose 5 more pounds but seem to be stuck at my present weight. Why is it so hard to lose those last few pounds, and what can I do to reach my target weight?” You are …

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A Deeper Look at Health

When Kelle Cunningham had her first appointment with David Lobur, M.D., it was unlike anything she had ever experienced. They talked for 90 minutes. “He wanted to know all about my health history: How I was born? What I did. He just wanted to know everything about me, which I never had happen before,” says …

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Is It Possible to Target Areas of Unwanted Fat?

Question: “I’ve been on a diet and lost several pounds but still want to get rid of unwanted fat in a few areas, primarily on the back of my arms and hips. How can I target these areas?” Targeting specific areas of the body for weight loss, commonly known as spot reducing, has been a …

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Can Walking Do Much to Affect Health and Fitness?

Question: “I want to get in better shape and lose a few pounds. I am not very athletic but do enjoy hiking and being outdoors. How effective is walking as an exercise that will help me achieve my goals?” Walking is an excellent choice of exercise for people of all ages and ability levels whose …

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Is Lifting Weights Safe for Older Adults?

Question: “I am 65 years old and recently read an article that said lifting weights is beneficial at almost any age. Is that true? I am interested in information on a strengthening program specifically for older adults. Can you provide guidelines or some suggestions?” People of almost all ages can lift weights and benefit from …

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What is Cross-Training, Anyway?

Question: “Can you explain what is meant by “cross-training”? I see it advertised at my health club. Is it a special kind of workout program?” Many people, myself included, often fall into the routine of performing the same workout regimen day after day, week after week. This is not necessarily a good practice because by …

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Detraining: How to Maintain Fitness with Less Time

Question: “I recently completed the Pittsburgh half marathon. Although not a competitive runner I’m probably in the best shape of my life. However, over the next few months I won’t have time to run my usual 25–30 miles per week. Is there anything I can do to maintain my present level of fitness, or will …

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Getting Kids Moving: Sports vs. Free Play

Question: “I’m trying to get my kids to be more physically active. What are the benefits of participating in recreational youth sports, like soccer and baseball? Or is it better to simply encourage kids to play on their own?” I’ve spent a career in competitive athletics, first as a player and later as a college …

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Why Am I Gaining Weight?

Question: “I am a middle-aged man who has never had a weight problem until recently. Over the past two years I have gained about 10 pounds even though my diet has not really changed. I try to eat healthy and low-fat when I can and have been doing so for years. I do not understand …

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Lyme: Pittsburgh’s Growing Epidemic

Ever since her Peace Corps days in Uganda, Libby Ernharth has been fascinated by infectious diseases. In Africa in the 1990s, she first saw the havoc wreaked when parasites and other tiny organisms make their way inside of human hosts. Later, when she became a physician assistant in Pittsburgh, she dealt mainly with “first-world infections—the …

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A Different Kind of Pharmacy

Susan Merenstein tells people that she has “pharmacy” in her blood. Her late father ran Drug Lane, a Washington, D.C. drugstore, and she spent lots of time there, working the cigar and candy counter at age 10 and, ultimately, being a technician. She attended the University of Pittsburgh and became a registered pharmacist, working at …

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