Frequently Asked Questions ?

The purpose of warm-up activities is to prepare the body, especially the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, for the conditioning or stimulus phase of the exercise session. The cool-down phase assures that venous return to the heart is maintained in the face of significant amounts of blood going to the previously working muscles. Light aerobic endurance activities, coupled with activities, provide the fundamental basis for both the warm-up and cool-down phases. The length of the warm-up and cool-down periods depends on several factors, including the type of activity engaged in during the conditioning period, the level of intensity of those activities, and the age and fitness level of the participant. In general, the warm-up and cool-down phases should last approximately five to ten minutes each. If the individual has less time available to work out than usual, it is recommended that the time allotted for the conditioning phase of the workout be reduced, while retaining sufficient time for both the warm-up and cool-down phases.
Cross training is typically defined as an exercise regimen that uses several modes of training to develop a specific component of fitness; in this instance, aerobic fitness. A relatively sound argument can be advanced to support the premise that using two or more types of aerobic exercise in your training regimen is in your best interests. While no evidence exists to support the often-stated claim that cross training somehow induces a better aerobic conditioning response, research indicates that using several modes of training can provide an exerciser with a very positive orthopedic benefit. By combining different exercise modes, you prevent the same bones, muscle groups and joints from being stressed over and over. As a consequence, cross training tends to reduce the likelihood of your being injured as the result of exercising "too much." In addition, cross training has also been shown to have a very positive effect on an individual's long-term adherence to a specific type of activity.
Based on electromyographic (EMG) activity recorded during the performance of various abdominal exercises (e.g., crunches, reverse curls, leg lifts), individuals generally appear unable to differentially recruit the "upper" and "lower" abdominal muscles. In other words, individuals cannot trigger a contraction in one specific area of the abdominal muscles (either the upper or lower abs). Despite the common misconception among many fitness professionals and exercise enthusiasts, EMG data suggest that the upper and lower rectus abdominis act as a continuous sheath (i.e., one large muscle group). Contributing to the confusion is the fact that during certain abdominal exercises (e.g., leg lifts or other "hip flexor" exercises), individuals experience localized muscle fatigue and discomfort in the lower abdominal region. This situation occurs because the primary muscle used in hip flexion, the iliopsoas, originates deep below the lower portion of the rectus abdominis. The key point to keep in mind is that the phenomenon of local muscle fatigue and discomfort should not be misinterpreted as specific recruitment of "lower" abdominal muscles.
The Pilates Method is a system of movement and exercise, widely used by dancers, that was developed in the 1920s by a German physical therapist named Joseph Pilates. Pilates exercises are designed to strengthen the body's core (i.e., the abdominal and back regions) by developing pelvic stability and abdominal control. Proponents of Pilates contend that the exercises improve flexibility and joint mobility and build strength. This method of exercising stresses slow, controlled movements, and proper breathing. An initial Pilates session typically includes a body assessment, which allows the instructor to identify strength and flexibility weaknesses. Pilates sessions typically last one hour and cost $30-$50 for private sessions (some studios offer group sessions for $8-$25 per session). Despite its growing popularity, few (if any) controlled studies on the Pilates Method have been conducted.
Absolutely. In fact, one of the largest study measuring fitness ever conducted found that exercise will indeed help a person live longer. Led by Dr. Steven Blair of the Institute of Aerobics Research in Dallas, the eight-year study evaluated the fitness and mortality levels of 13,344 men and women. Researchers involved with the study found that exercise reduces the death rate from all causes, particularly cancer and heart disease. Physical fitness was measured by each subject's performance on a standardized treadmill test - a test which is designed to accurately assess aerobic fitness (the most commonly accepted indicator of physical "health"). Based on the test results, the subjects were then grouped by gender into five categories ranging from least to most fit. The results of the study, which were published in the Journal of The American Medical Association, showed that the higher the fitness level the lower the death rate, after the data was adjusted for age differences between the subjects. Compared with the most-fit subjects, individuals in the least-fit category had death rates 3.4 and 4.6 times higher for men and women respectively. The differences in mortality rates held relatively constant even after obvious causal factors, such as smoking and cholesterol level, were considered. For both men and women, the largest drop from one fitness category to another was from the least-fit to the next most-fit group. Expressed as deaths per 10,000 person-years, the age-adjusted death rates for men and women in the sedentary category fell from 64 and 39.5 to 25.5 and 20.5 respectively in the next most-fit group, a decline of more than 60 percent for men and 48 percent for women. The implication of Blair's findings are extraordinarily significant, particularly for a sedentary individual. On a major scale, this study documents the fact that a modest amount of exercise can and does go a long way. The equivalent of walking 30 minutes a day is all that is required to move from the most sedentary category to the next most fit category.
The human body is unable to store extra protein. Protein consumed in excess of the body's needs is not used to build muscle; rather, it is used for non-protein bodily functions. If individuals consume protein in excess of their caloric and protein needs, the extra protein will not be stored as protein. Unfortunately such extra protein is converted to and stored as fat. As a result, if individuals consume large amounts of extra protein in addition to their regular dietary intake, any weight gain would very likely be in the form of fat. Another important point to keep in mind is that the potential for harm exists if protein is consumed in excess. Such harm is most likely to occur in the individual who consumes protein or amino acid supplements. For example, excess protein may lead to dehydration, because protein metabolism requires extra water for utilization and excretion (i.e., elimination) of its by-products. Since exercising individuals are already at an increased risk for dehydration, the additional strain of protein waste excretion may further promote dehydration. Excess protein has also been shown to lead to an increase in the loss of urinary calcium. A chronic calcium loss, due to excess protein intake, is of particular concern because it may increase the risk of osteoporosis, especially in women.
There are two types of exercise-related muscle soreness. Immediate muscle soreness quickly dissipates and is the pain you feel during, or immediately after, exercise. Delayed muscle soreness signals a natural adaptive process that the body initiates following intense exercise. This type of muscle soreness manifests itself 24 to 48 hours after the exercise session and spontaneously decreases after 72 hours. Numerous studies have been conducted to determine the cause of delayed muscle soreness. The most current consensus attributes this condition to microscopic tears in the muscle and surrounding connective tissue following eccentric exercise. A muscle contracts eccentrically when it lengthens under tension during exercise. For example, during a biceps curl, the biceps muscle shortens during the concentric lifting phase and lengthens during the eccentric lowering phase. Eccentric contractions also occur during aerobic activity, such as downhill running, in which the quadriceps muscle repeatedly lengthens against gravity to lower the center of mass and aid in shock absorption. Exercisers who experience delayed muscle soreness include conditioned individuals who increase the intensity, frequency or duration of their workouts, or participate in an activity with which they are unfamiliar. Beginning exercisers, or those who have undergone a significant lapse in training, frequently experience soreness when starting or re-engaging in an exercise regimen. Studies attempting to identify the best methods to alleviate delayed muscle soreness are almost as abundant as the number of studies conducted to determine its cause. Cryotherapy (the topical application of ice), massage, stretching and the use of nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), among other less conventional approaches, have been evaluated to determine if they can prevent or effectively treat delayed muscle soreness. To date, a therapy that consistently relieves delayed muscle soreness has yet to be identified. On the other hand, a few of the aforementioned therapies may have a mild positive impact if initiated immediately after intense or unusual exercise. Once an individual has experienced delayed muscle soreness at a specific exercise intensity, he or she shouldn't encounter that sensation again until the intensity level is increased. This is because delayed muscle soreness has been shown to produce a rapid adaptation response, which means that the muscles adapt to a given exercise intensity level. Until (or unless) the exercise intensity level is changed, soreness won't occur. This factor is the basis for the most widely recommended approach to preventing delayed muscle soreness: gradual progression and conservative increases in intensity, frequency and duration. Preliminary light exercise may prevent the onset of soreness following a heavy eccentric-exercise workout. Beginners should exercise with light weights, two to three times per week for one to two months, then gradually increase the intensity of their workouts. Conditioned exercisers who want to try a new workout or activity also should begin gradually, taking care not to be overzealous in how hard they exert themselves- particularly until their bodies adapt to the demands imposed upon them.
It may taste good when you're thirsty, but drinking beer is not an effective way to rehydrate after exercising. Alcohol has a diuretic effect. As a result, instead of replenishing your fluid levels, beer promotes additional water loss via urination. Some individuals erroneously believe that beer gives them a carbohydrate boost plus extra potassium. An urgent need for these nutrients immediately following a workout, however, simply does not exist. Even if an individual needed these specific nutrients, beer is a relatively poor source. For example, compared to orange juice, a 12-ounce can of beer has only 13 grams and 90 milligrams of carbohydrates and potassium, respectively, versus 26 grams of carbohydrates and 450 milligrams of potassium in 8 ounces of orange juice.
Usually, the main symptom of a heart attack is a heavy, squeezing, constricting, burning pain or discomfort occurring in the center of the chest. This pain may sometimes radiate down the left arm, across the left shoulder and upper back, or up to the neck and to the lower jaw. Anxiety, profuse sweating, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, and fainting may also be present. Fortunately, in most cases, the pain or discomfort is severe enough to cause an individual to seek medical attention. In some instances, however, the pain lasts for only an hour or less and the individual mistakenly believes that the chest pain is simply due to indigestion or skeletal muscle spasms. The following questions can be useful in helping individuals to differentiate cardiac chest pain from non-cardiac chest pain: Does the pain/discomfort get better or worse when changing body position? Cardiac chest pain is not influenced by changes in body position. Is the pain/discomfort better or worse with respirations? Cardiac chest pain is not exacerbated by respiration. Is the pain/discomfort intense, dull, or knifelike? Cardiac chest pain is usually described as a dull ache or heaviness; it is seldom characterized as being sharp or stabbing. Is the pain/discomfort deep or close to the surface? Cardiac chest pain is deep, not superficial. If you or a client experiences chest pain, with or without the other warning signs or symptoms described, seek immediate medical assistance. DO NOT WAIT TO SEE IF THE SYMPTOMS SUBSIDE. You have nothing to lose (except perhaps a little time and money) if you go to the hospital on a false alarm, but you may very well save your life.
Experts recommend 30-60 minutes of exercise per day. The 60-minute suggestion is based on the National Academy of Science's ideal recommendation for people who are trying to lose weight. But you'll get real health benefits (and burn lots of calories) even if you don't work out that much -- especially if you haven't been exercising at all up to now. While 30 minutes of physical activity is considered enough to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure, even 10 minutes a day will do you good. Remember that you don't have to do all your exercise in one session: A 30-minute aerobics workout in the morning, a 20-minute walk after work, and 10 minutes of mopping the floor after dinner can do the trick. (Don't forget to include some strength training and stretching in your workouts, too.)
Choose endurance activities for weight loss such as jogging, aerobics, bicycling, rowing, or swimming. Exercise at a moderately intense level. You should be able to talk without running out of breath during the activity. Exercise for more than 40 minutes. During the first 20 minutes, your body taps into your sugar reserves (carbohydrates stored as blood glucose and muscle glycogen). Between 20 to 40 minutes of exercise, the body continues to use up your sugar reserves and starts to tap into your body fat. After 40 minutes the body starts to burn even more fat. Choose aquatic workouts or exercise in the cold. This causes the body to burn more energy and melt fat more quickly. The body draws on its fat reserves to stay warm.
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