Hi! Thanks for joining us! We’re going to be talking fitness today – whether you’re starting a new routine or looking to amp up an old one, we welcome your questions. We’ll be starting the chat in just a few minutes, but if you have a question, you can go ahead and get it in queue. And as we prepare for the chat, just a reminder – be sure to consult your doctor before making any kind of change to your exercise routine.
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I’d like to kick things off thinking about those readers that are looking to start 2014 with a new workout routine. There are so many options – running, weights, circuit training, yoga…and the list goes on and on. Rich, do you have any suggestions on how someone should go about figuring out which kind of exercise is right for them?
Sure. Most important is to determine what goals one wants to achieve. If it’s to gain muscle mass and get stronger, or raise metabolic rate, then resistance exercise activities such as free weights and/or machines, circuit training, Pilates, and yes, even yoga, will help (recent studies show that yoga can be just as effective at building strength as traditional exercises such as using free weights). If one desires more endurance and stamina, and burning lots of calories, then aerobic activities (cardio) such as biking, jogging, brisk walking, dancing, and swimming, will be most effective.
Finding the time to exercise can certainly be a challenge with our busy lifestyles. Try to start out by building more exercise into your daily routine by parking further away or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. I would also suggest that you write down your weekly schedule so that you can better visualize opportunities where you can incorporate exercise. Remember, it doesn’t have to be all at once – break up your exercise into sessions throughout the day.
Calories burned during weight bearing exercise such as yoga depends on your body weight and then of course how vigorous the activity is, the poses, and how long you hold them. If the yoga is traditional Hatha, then a 150-pound person will burn somewhere between 175 and 250 calories. If you weigh more than you burn more. As for whether it’s cardio, Hatha wouldn’t be since the criteria for cardio is that you get your heart rate elevate and it stays there for the workout. With Yoga you move and rest. If you’re looking for a Yoga class that’s cardio, then look for one that has more vigorous and sustained activity. Enjoy Yoga, it’s awesome.
You may have started out by doing too much exercise, too soon. I would try either decreasing the time that you spend on exercise, decreasing how often you do it, or decreasing your exercise intensity. It’s better to start out slow and gradually add in more exercise because you have to allow time for your body to get adjusted to exercise, especially when starting out. Keep in mind that rest is an important component of any exercise routine and please visit with your doctor if the pain persists.
The problem with fasting is that sometimes people don’t receive enough nutritional value. You also can slow metabolic rate, and depending if weight loss is a goal then that would be counter-productive, plus if the fasting is sustained enough, you could even lose some muscle. Some people do fasting to “cleanse” the body. There’s no evidence that this happens, and with a healthy diet, regular exercise, and attention to proper health practices, a fast should not be necessary.
One question we hear from readers is about timing of workouts. What time of day is best for working out? Will time of day affect results?
There really isn’t any clear evidence to suggest that a certain time of day will promote better results than others. The important thing is that the exercise fits well enough into your schedule that you can develop a consistent routine. Try not to exercise any less than two hours before bedtime though because it may cause insomnia.
As you probably know, FM can be frustrating because it’s unpredictable as when you have a flair and how you’re going to feel. And as you also probably know, there will be some days when you can do more exercise than other days. As for specific exercises, there really isn’t one that’s better than the other. It’s more a “listen to your body” approach which it sounds like you have a handle on. My patients who have fibromyalgia have a good spirit about it and find the activity that works, and when they can do it they go for it. And other times when they’re not feeling so good, they're resilient and I admire their courage and tenacity in getting through it. I’m glad you found Pilates. It’s great exercise and I’m sure you get benefit both physical and psychological. Good for you. Keep up the good work.
Exercise specialists often refer to the F.I.T.T. principle in regards to exercise, which stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. You can try varying your routine by adding more time, adding more days, increasing the intensity level of your exercise, or changing the type of exercise altogether. Try making a change in whichever area that you would feel most comfortable with and that you think would challenge you the most. Have fun with it and enjoy!
If you have exercise tubing you could easily set up a circuit in your home without disturbing the neighbors. Here’s a fast and simple routine:
Pushups, rows with the tubing on the door, bench dips on the sofa, lateral raises with tubing, pushups again, pulldowns with the tubing attached to the door, triceps pressdowns witht the tubing on the door, biceps curls with tubing, ab work, then start over. The idea to circuit training is to keep moving, spending 45 seconds one each exercise, then move to the next. Keep moving and the intensity high and your heart rate elevated and you’ve got a killer workout. And no neighbors to fight off!!!
I’ve seen research that suggests that it’s entirely acceptable to break up exercise into as little as 10 minute sessions throughout the day to receive similar health benefits to if you were to do it all at once. For instance, you can break up 30 minutes of exercise into three 10 minute sessions throughout the day instead of one 30 minute session. It’s great for people who can’t commit the time to do it all at once!
Core muscles pretty much work with all exercises because the core and abs in general stabilize the body during most activities, and certainly weight lifting. So whenever you lift focus on keeping the abs contracted. As for specific exercises, ab work is the obvious first choice. You can vary them to make sure you work the middle abs (rectus abdominis) and then the obliques. For example, you can do straight crunches and then with knees dropped to one side and then the other. Again, do all the exercises slowly and be sure to focus on contracting the abs. Then go ahead and roll over and do some planks, and then stand up and do side bends and spinal twists. Focus, focus, focus on those abs!
What you’re describing fits under a theory called “spot reduction” and, unfortunately, we can’t pick where we want the fat loss to come from off our body. You can do exercises to give a more “toned” appearance perhaps to certain body parts, but nothing to target fat loss from a specific part or area of your body. Keep up the great work though and the weight loss should come soon!
A couple of points.
1. To lose weight you must consume fewer calories than you burn no matter how much exercise you do. What I t means for you is to continue with all your exercise, but you’ll have to take closer look at your calorie intake. If you’re not losing then you’re consuming more than you burn. Eating pretty healthy as you say is always a good idea, it’s just that the calories need to be reduced. You can check the WebMD Food and Fitness Planner for that information.
2. Your BMI is 22.9 That’s a normal healthy weight and it may be difficult to lose more weight, and even if you did, it might be difficult to maintain it. Instead of the scale, I suggest you shift your focus to your body composition, that is, the amount of body fat and muscle you have, and shaping your physique. You can monitor your body fat by using a bioelectric impedance (BIA) scale. You can buy a BIA scale for around $45. You can find them online
Good luck with your workouts!
Yes, the 10 minute intervals should still be at an aerobic level to see the same health benefits of a single session of exercise, so make sure that you’re getting your heart rate up to see good cardiovascular benefits. I might also suggest trying more vigorous intensity exercise if time is an issue. For example, the equivalent of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise would be doing 15 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise.
There’s been a flurry of research over the years about exercising on an empty stomach and burning more fat as a result. The original studies were done in rats. A few points to keep in mind. The calories burned were still the same, and the extra percent of fat burned was rather trivial in the big picture. Whether a person would even notice the difference is questionable. The other point is that glycogen will not necessarily be spared because on a fast when the body is depleted you will need quick sources of fuel, and glucose and glycogen would be the choice since they are less dense than fat. As for protein, yes, there’s plenty of research to show that protein within 30 minutes of a workout speeds up recovery and muscle synthesis.
First, I would recommend that you speak with your doctor to make sure that don’t have any health conditions that would prevent you from exercise. Then, think about what you want to achieve and set up a specific plan, while being realistic with your goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself by doing too much, too soon; it’s important to start out slow – you can always add more exercise once you’re comfortable. Begin with something low impact like walking, riding a bike, or using an elliptical. If you’re new to strength training, get help from someone with experience, preferably a personal trainer, to make sure that you use the equipment properly.
For your core, keep in mind that pretty much all exercises require some degree of core to stabilize the torso. So any time you’re lifting, and especially with exercises where you are standing, make sure to focus on contracting your abs. All ab exercises on the floor, and standing side bends and spinal twists are very helpful too. As for the fat on your hips, you can’t spot reduce, but all cardio exercise sends signals to all the fat cells in the body to release fat for fuel for the muscles. So although you can’t direct your body to reduce just the fat on your hips, certainly all cardio will do it. Good luck!
Personally, I don’t believe that a detox or cleanse diet is necessary because I feel that our body already does a pretty good job of doing that itself. In fact, some detox diets may actually harm your body! If you feel that you might need a detox, try making some lifestyle changes by eliminating processed foods and eating more whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Beginning a new exercise routine will also help you to feel good and promote good health!
Stretching your quads and hamstrings are very important, and especially quads. If you search online for quadriceps stretches you’ll find many (such as standing against a wall and reaching back to grab your foot). Another thing to do is massage the iliotibial band (ITB), a band of connective tissue along the outside of the leg that sometimes will pull on the knee if it’s tight and cause pain. You might also want to start doing straight leg raises where you lie on your back, one knee bent, the other leg straight, contract the straight leg and then lift it to the height of the other knee. You can search for this exercise online. Finally, keep in mind that when you run you hit the ground with 3-4 times your body weight so for now you might want to keep your running on soft surfaces, and/or limit the amount you’re doing at least until things settle down. Good luck!