Fitness Q&A

Must We Gain Weight as We Grow Older?

Question: “My middle-aged friends and I watch what we eat and try to stay active, but all of us seem to be gaining weight as we get older. Is getting fatter simply an unavoidable consequence of aging?” Although weight gain is generally considered part of the aging process, there are no legitimate reasons why a …

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The Many Benefits of Functional Fitness

Question: “I’ve read that ‘functional fitness activity’ can help maintain a healthy body weight and provide additional benefits as well. However, I am not sure what functional fitness is all about. Can you explain?” “Functional fitness” activities relate more to a person’s lifestyle than what we consider to be formal, structured workouts. The term generally …

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Fit Facts: Hard Truths about Diet and Exercise

Question: “There’s so much information available about dieting and exercise. I’m not sure what to believe. How do I separate fact from fiction? I feel your pain! There is an enormous amount of material available through workout videos, diet and exercise books, health club promotions, fitness equipment companies and the internet. Sifting through information can …

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Walking: Exercise of Choice in a Pandemic

Question: “In the past few months, I’ve noticed more people walking for exercise than ever before, perhaps because health clubs have been closed due to the pandemic. How beneficial is walking as a substitute for more strenuous workouts?” I am in the habit of walking my dog Winston a couple of times every day and …

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Training Guidelines to Improve Strength and Endurance

Question: “I want to improve my overall level of strength and endurance. Are there any guidelines to ensure I can do it safely, correctly and effectively?” Getting the most out of an exercise program can best be accomplished by understanding and implementing fundamental principles that apply to all forms of physical training. These principles include …

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How Can We Motivate Kids to Exercise?

Question: “I have read that American children are falling behind the rest of the world in performance on basic fitness tests. How can we get kids to exercise more and improve their fitness?” Your assessment of the physical status of our younger generation is spot on. Over the last few decades, American children have become …

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What Determines a Healthy Body Weight?

Question: “How can I determine a healthy body weight for myself?” For sake of discussion, let us consider a healthy body weight to be one where a person generally feels good with her or his weight, can complete routine physical activities and exercise with relative ease, and is free of or successfully managing chronic disease. …

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How Much Exercise Is Required to Reap Health Benefits?

Question: “I realize that exercise is good for us. How much daily exercise is required to get positive health benefits?” Here is what we know for sure: An overwhelming amount of evidence points to the fact that a physically active lifestyle provides a variety of positive health outcomes. Participating in regular exercise, whether it be …

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The Importance of the Warmup and Cooldown

Question: “I fit my aerobic workouts into a very tight schedule. How important is it to spend time warming up before and cooling down after exercising? I often do neither.” Warming up prior to engaging in more vigorous exercise serves several important functions. From both a mental and physiological standpoint, it prepares the body for …

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Harness the Power of Habit to Achieve Fitness Goals

Question: “One of my 2021 goals is to lose a few pounds and get in better shape. However, I am hesitant to go to a gym because of the pandemic, and I am simply not into exercise classes. What is the solution?” The process of changing outcomes begins with changing habits. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines …

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How Can I Improve My Flexibility?

Question: “I am becoming less flexible as I get older. Simple tasks such as bending over to pick up a bag of groceries have become more difficult. What can I do to improve, or at least maintain, my flexibility?” Your situation is not unusual as most people become increasingly less flexible as they get older. …

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How Many Calories Do I Require Each Day?

Question: “How can I determine how many calories are required daily to maintain my present weight?” Calories are units of energy obtained from the proteins, fats and carbohydrates that we eat and drink. Maintenance calorie requirements can vary widely from one individual to the next due to a variety of factors that include age, gender, …

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Improving Muscular Fitness: The Basics

Question: “I am a 40-plus-year-old who has never lifted weights, but I want to get stronger and more toned. Can you provide some guidance?” When we speak of getting stronger and more toned, we are really talking about improving muscular fitness, which comprises three primary components: strength, endurance and power. Strength is the maximum force …

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Combating the Middle Age Spread

Question: “I am experiencing the ‘middle age spread’ and want to flatten, tone and tighten up my stomach. What machine or exercises would you suggest?” Popular infomercials would have you believe that using a single abdominal machine for a few minutes a day can provide you with washboard abs, but it is not that simple. …

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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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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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