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Answers to common fitness questions

New to the wonderful world of fitness? If so, you most likely have a plethora of questions. Here to help you begin your journey are the answers to some of the most popular ones:

How often should you work out? To receive health benefits, maintain your current weight and prevent weight gain, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends you do at least 150 minutes (30 minutes five days a week) of moderate intensity cardio activity weekly. The suggested activity time increases to at least 250 minutes weekly for overweight individuals looking to shed pounds. If time is a concern, you could break up the workout sessions into groups of 10 minutes at a time. For strength training, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests targeting the major muscle groups two or three times a week using a variety of exercises and equipment. Flexibility exercises should be performed at least two or three days a week to improve range of motion.

Will abdominal exercises help me lose abdominal fat? This is probably the most-asked question, and the answer is a fervent "no!" When performed correctly, abdominal exercises are great for strengthening your core, but there is no such thing as spot reducing body fat. The most effective way to reduce "ab fat" is lots of cardiovascular exercise ... exercise that involves the whole body, such as walking, jogging, aerobics, cycling and swimming. Remember, too, that eating habits play a major role in the losing or gaining process.

What is considered moderate intensity? Moderate intensity activity may leave you a little out of breath, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation. According to public health experts, you would be expending 3 1/2 to 7 calories a minute. Moderate intensity activities include brisk walking, water aerobics, ballroom dancing and playing doubles in tennis.

How can you maximize your cardio workout? Use your arms while you are using those legs. Avoid letting them just hang by your sides. Pump them while running, allow the arms to move with you while on the treadmill and use your arms in Zumba or any cardio class. Introducing interval training by alternating a steady pace with a brisk pace will increase your calorie burning while building up your endurance.

What is the difference between working out with free weights and working out with machines? They both have their advantages. Machines move in a predetermined direction and strengthen isolated muscle groups, while free weights can move in many directions, stabilizing the secondary muscle groups around the joints as well as the targeted muscles.

How many calories do you need to burn to lose 1 pound of fat? It takes 3,500 calories to burn off 1 pound of fat. To lose 1 pound in a week you would need to consume 500 fewer calories a day. You could share that amount by burning 250 calories with activities and knocking off 250 calories from your daily eating.

Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. Contact Sally at slafit@tampabay.rr.com.

Opposite arm and leg lift: This combination strength-stretch exercise for the lower back also works the glutes and hamstrings (back of thighs).

Lie facedown on a mat with your arms stretched out in front of your shoulders. Your forehead will be on the mat. With contracted abdominals, lift an opposite arm and leg off the floor. No high lifts: Your arm should be no higher than shoulder level and your leg no higher than hip level. Maintaining the muscle contraction, hold for a slow count of four, then, with control, lower your leg and arm, repeating four or five times. Change to the other arm and leg and repeat the pattern.

. Alternating overhead press: This exercise targets the shoulder muscles.

Begin standing or sitting with bent arms, weights next to the ears, palms facing inward. Contract your abdominals to give support to the back. Raise one arm overhead while holding the other arm in place. Lower your arm to the original position (near the ears), then press the other arm upward. Continue alternating arms for eight to 15 repetitions.

Basic shoulder stretch: Bring your right arm across your chest and wrap your left hand just above the elbow. Gently pull the right arm to add more stretch in the shoulders. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then switch sides and repeat. Repeat the stretch several times.

Answers to common fitness questions 02/20/17 [Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2017 5:30pm]
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