F I T N E S S F A Q S
Here are some commonly asked questions about workouts and fitness. The hows, the where, when and why. Please feel free to write to us if you couldn’t find what you like to know more about.
Experts recommend 30-60 minutes of exercise per day. The 60-minute recommendation 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 exercises 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.
Choosing 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 our 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.
There is virtually no medical condition that will keep you from doing any type of exercise. Even people with heart failure who were long told not to exercise at all can benefit from moderate amounts of activity.
People with limited mobility can often do water exercises or yoga or other exercises while seated in the chair (some “chair exercise” videos are now on the market). Of course, if you have any medical condition, check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.
Check with your doctor. Lifting weights will not only help you lose weight, but maintain the loss. Here’s why:
Muscle keeps your metabolism revved up, burning calories, fat and glucose (sugar).
When you lose up to 25% of the loss may come from muscle, resulting in a slower metabolism. Weight lifting will help preserve or rebuild any muscle you lose by dieting.
Remember that you don’t have to do all your exercise in one session. If you already exercise vigorously at the gym several times a week, there’s no reason to quit. But if 60 minutes seems like too much for you, try 30 minutes a day as a starting goal.
The most important thing is that you do something.
If you are new to exercise or have struggled with it in the past, talk to your doctor about your exercise plans. After that start by incorporating more activity into your daily life. For instance:
- If you always take the elevator, take the stairs.
- If you try to park next to the door of wherever you’re going, park further away and walk.
- If your habit is to eat at your desk, take a 10 to 20 minutes walk first, then have your lunch (or take a walk after you eat).
- Instead of watching TV all day Saturday and Sunday, plan active weekends. Go to the park, take a walking tour, ride your bike. If you prefer a more ambitious routine, you can join a gym or work out at home. Try for 30 to 60 minutes of continuous aerobic activity (such as swimming, biking, walking, dancing or jogging) at least three to five times a week, at 60 to 90% of your maximum heart rate. Weight training can also help tone your muscles and elevate your resting metabolism rate (the rate that body burns fuel for energy). Try at least one set (8 to 12 repetitions) each of eight to 10 different exercises, targeting each of the body’s major muscle groups.
- Muscle helps you with aerobic exercise. The stronger you are, the better you will be at any aerobic activity.
- Weight training improves your body’s muscle-to-fat ratio (you end up with less body fat and more muscle), which improves both your health and fitness level.
- Gaining muscle will help you look better as you define and tone your physique.
In interval training, you alternate between bursts of higher-intensity exercise and periods of less-intense exercise (or ‘active rest’). As you get more fit, you decrease the ‘rest time’ and increase the high-intensity periods. You’ll see big fitness gains if you train this way regularly.
For example, if you now run for 30 minutes at 6 km per hour, try this routine: Jog for five minutes to warm up. Then increase your speed to 6.5 km for one to two minutes (less if you can’t go that long). Then, jog for a few minutes at your normal speed, then again at the faster speed, and so on until you reach your time limit. Your ratio of work to active rest would be 2:3 if you ran for two minutes at 6.5 km, then jogged for three minutes at 6 km.
You can also use your heart rate to set intervals. For example, if your heart rate hits 70% of your maximum when you jog at 6 mph, start at that speed. Then increase either your speed or elevation (if you’re on a treadmill) to get your heart rate to 85% or 90% of your maximum heart rate for one to three minutes. Then, go back to jogging at the 70% heart rate, and continue alternating.
We recommend interval training just once a week to start, as it is more intense than you may be used to. Once you get a feel of it, you can do it more often.