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Transcript

Moving Crew: Cardio Fitness

Thursday, November 11, 2004; 11:00 AM

You need to get moving.

Let's face it, we all do -- not to claim boasting rights in the gym or look good in a Speedo (you don't) -- but to boost our chances of staying healthy and energetic, regardless of age and athletic ability.

The Moving Crew is not aimed at health faddists, body builders or extreme athletes. But if you're a harried deskjockey trying to find creative ways to squeeze in exercise, a senior looking to stay active or a workout enthusiast whose routine's gone flat, you might find the answers here.


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Each week the Crew will explore some facet of fitness from the inevitable new trends to the latest research and offer ways to overcome the excuses that keep so many of us desk- and sofa-bound.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

_____________

John Briley: Happy Thursday Chatland - We assume everyone has recovered from the invasion of ghouls, goblins and other scary faces common during campaign season and that you've all resumed your "normal" lives, or at least are managing to incorporate exercise into your abnormal life. We're here - as always - to take your questions, musings, frustrations and exaltations on all things fitness, with a particular focus today on cardio fitness: That wide net covers heart rate monitors (the topic of this week's Moving Crew column), interval training, ideal heart rates, weight loss vs. cardio fitness and many other things related to your heart and exercise.

So let's take our pulses and dive right in...

_______________________

washingtonpost.com: Heart rate monitors for 10th graders? Read about HRMs in this week's Moving Crew column.

_______________________

Burlingame, CA: I like to walk once per week for approx 15 miles (takes about 4 hours). Is this sufficient cardiovascular exercise?

John Briley: Hey West Coast - Thanks for dropping in. If you had said, "I walk 15 miles a week..." I'd say you're doing great. And, compared to most people, you are. But bunching it all into one session is not the best way to go, for numerous reasons:

1. It is hard to train your body (heart included) to improve over time unless you give it more regular exercise. Experts recommend at least three cardio sessions per week.

2. Depending on your overall fitness and health - i.e., do you strength train on some of the other days? - taking six days off between each exercise session could raise your chance of injury. Once again, you're not training your body to handle the stress and impact.

3. On the off chance you miss a day - for weather, health, or emergency reasons, for example - your whole week's exercise regimen could be shot.

4. A little out of my league here, but I also think you want to promote elevated blood flow more often than once a week for health reasons (not just fitness), i.e., prevent artery clogging, etc.

Clearly you love the long session, so stick with it, but try to drop a couple of shorter ones in there throughout the week - even if it's just a couple miles.

_______________________

Hesperia, CA: Fitness, fitness, fitness, starts out as weight loss, weight loss, weight loss. I know I did this in 2001 and while I was working on getting thin a wonderful thing happened. I got healthy and now I teach water fitness to others so they can get healthy and feel great too. Fitness is about so much more then looking good, it is about feeling good, waking up in the morning excited about moving. My recommendation, find what you love and do it. It will change your life. If you don't love it well just do it as the gifts of being fit far outway the comforts of the couch.

John Briley: Inspiring exaltation, Hesperia. Thank you for helping motivate the masses!

_______________________

Silver Spring, Curlygirl: I have recently taken to using a HRM to track my workouts. I've discovered that in classes like spinning, or on the treadmill, I'm almost always working at 85-95%, rather than the ~75% that is recommended for fat burning. I need to lose about 40 pounds. Should I be trying instead to work at 75%? I don't feel really, totally exhausted after 45 mins to an hour at 75%, but am concerned that regular workouts at 85%+ are part of the reason I'm craving sugar all the time. Am I overtraining? I do this workout 3-5 days a week and also do weights three days a week.

Craig Stoltz: Hey Curly, Great job using an HRM, Curly. It's such a great way to know you're working "hard enough."

The big asterisk with HRMs, though, is that caluclating maximum heart rate is a very approximate business. Most HRMs will just use the 220-minus-your-age-in-years method of calculating your maximum, but according to the American Council on Exercise's manual for personal trainers, variations of 10 to 20 percent are common. (When the 220-minus calculation is compared to a treadmill EKG test, which is more reliable.)

The short answer: If you're at 85 to 95 percent, one of two things is going on: You're in great shape and your ticker is capable of staying in that high zone, or your "real" maximum HR is higher than the caluclation your HRM uses, and you're "really" working out at 60-75 percent of your max.

Either way, frankly, you're fine. As long as you're not finding yourself unable to catch your breath, feeling chest pain or really hurting the next day, you're likely working at a safe level.

Now: Onto the "fat-burning zone" part of the question: Ignore that phony distinction. As none other than my colleague John Briley has explained in a Moving Crew column, you'll burn more calories (and thus cutting more fat) at a higher HR than you will at a lower one. The fat-burning vs. cardio is really a finicky technical matter about what kind of cellular fuel is burned at different HRs. It's not meaningful to someone who is just trying to manage weight and improve fitness. I've never heard that working out at higher HR drives hunger or sweetness cravings moreso than the same amount of calories burned at a lower HR.

But many women, moreso than men, experience incerased appetite when working out a lot. Feed your cravings with healthier sweets, as in fruit, rather than in chocolate or candy or cake. As long as you're not injured or fatiguing your muscles, you're not overtraining. But *don't* train muscles that are sore. Always let the soreness recede before repeating the workout that caused it.

_______________________

Mitchellville, MD: Is there such thing as a better time of day to work out? Also, is it better to work out before or after a meal?

Craig Stoltz: Hey Mitch,

It sounds glib, but the best time of day to exercise is the time you're most likely to do it. Sticking to a program regularly is far more important than any minor benefit you may receive from choosing morning over afternoon or evening, etc. People who are *really* serious about competitive weightlifting or body building have theories on this, but most don't affect civilians like us.

I do know that people who study this stuff say there are reasons to time your eating relative to your workout, regardless of what time of day you do your workout.

Try to eat something with some carbohydrates (preferably whole-grain) 60-90 minutes before working out. That'll give you some energy and prevent you from getting sick or slowed by a full belly. After working out, many folks recommend a small meal that includes both protein and fat. This is one reason why those power bar things remain popular, despite tasting like tar and feathers.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: Hello - My 68 year-old aunt is an avid walker, and believer in getting the heart pumping, but often complains of knots in her neck and back. I thought a yoga or stretching tape might help complement her walking routine, but while she's in good shape, a lot of the videos I see seem a little too limber for her. Any suggestions on titles? Is yoga the right way to go, or maybe straight stretching. Thanks for your thoughts!;

Susan Morse: Hi Washington,
That's a good idea you have--supplementing the walking with some flexibility exercises--and a thoughtful observation about the level she needs. Here are a couple of video titles that some of your fellow chatters and Moving Crew members have liked. A 72-year-old says the Prime Time Fitness videos (there are three) have a flexibility component; all three stress listening to your body so you don't overdo it. Also have a vote for Total Yoga, The Flow Series: Earth, 2001--a beginner's program.
Other suggestions out there for gentle, beginner stretching tapes or exercises?

_______________________

Rockville, MD: After finishing my first 10K a few weeks ago in exactly 1 hour, and encouraged by the result and my seeming ability to run fast for more than 20 minutes, I have decided to start running regularly. 30 minutes/3 miles three times a week to be exact.

My goal is to lose fat (I'm at about 20% body fat right now but want to go down about 2-3%) and about 10-15 pounds. I am a female, 26, 5'8" and 154lbs.

The problem is I find running for 30 minutes very boring. Is there any cardio out there that will give me the same high intensity workout and quick results but would be less monotonous and more fun? Or am I relegated to running to reach my goal?

John Briley: Hey Rockville - Congrats on the 10K and your new habit. I'm just like you" Recognize the benefits of running but find it really boring. A few suggestions:

Mix up your routes and your surfaces. Sometimes I run trails in Rock Creek Park (watch your ankles, especially with lots of leaves covering the rocks and divots) and sometimes on the residential roads in my neighborhood. One day I might take an architectural tour - cruising the blocks of old Victorians near my house ogling other people's exterior design - and some days I'll run up to the neighborhood high school track and see if my 1/4 mile time has improved.

It's all a game to keep me running. You need to get moving.

Let's face it, we all do -- not to claim boasting rights in the gym or look good in a Speedo (you don't) -- but to boost our chances of staying healthy and energetic, regardless of age and athletic ability.

The Moving Crew is not aimed at health faddists, body builders or extreme athletes. But if you're a harried deskjockey trying to find creative ways to squeeze in exercise, a senior looking to stay active or a workout enthusiast whose routine's gone flat, you might find the answers here.

Each week the Crew will explore some facet of fitness from the inevitable new trends to the latest research and offer ways to overcome the excuses that keep so many of us desk- and sofa-bound.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

_____________

John Briley: Happy Thursday Chatland -

We assume everyone has recovered from the invasion of ghouls, goblins and other scary faces common during campaign season and that you've all resumed your "normal" lives, or at least are managing to incorporate exercise into
your abnormal life. We're here - as always - to take your questions, musings, frustrations and exaltations on all things fitness, with a particular focus today on cardio fitness: That wide net covers heart rate monitors (the topic of this week's Moving Crew column), interval training,
ideal heart rates, weight loss vs. cardio fitness and many other things related to your heart and exercise.

So let's take our pulses and dive right in...

_______________________

washingtonpost.com: Heart rate monitors for 10th graders? Read about HRMs in this week's Moving Crew column.

_______________________

Burlingame, CA: I like to walk once per week for approx 15 miles (takes about 4 hours). Is this sufficient cardiovascular exercise?

John Briley: Hey West Coast - Thanks for dropping in. If you had said, "I walk 15 miles a week..." I'd say you're doing great. And, compared to most people, you are. But bunching it all into one session is not the best way to go, for numerous reasons:

1. It is hard to train your body (heart included) to improve over time unless you give it more regular exercise. Experts recommend at least three cardio sessions per week.

2. Depending on your overall fitness and health - i.e., do you strength train on some of the other days? - taking six days off between each exercise session could raise your chance of injury. Once again, you're not training your body to handle the stress and impact.

3. On the off chance you miss a day - for weather, health, or emergency reasons, for example - your whole week's exercise regimen could be shot.

4. A little out of my league here, but I also think you want to promote elevated blood flow more often than once a week for health reasons (not just fitness), i.e., prevent artery clogging, etc.

Clearly you love the long session, so stick with it, but try to drop a couple of shorter ones in there throughout the week - even if it's just a couple miles.

_______________________

Hesperia, CA: Fitness, fitness, fitness, starts out as weight loss, weight loss, weight loss. I know I did this in 2001 and while I was working on getting thin a wonderful thing happened. I got healthy and now I teach water fitness to others so they can get healthy and feel great too. Fitness is about so much more then looking good, it is about feeling good, waking up in the morning excited about moving. My recommendation, find what you love and do it. It will change your life. If you don't love it well just do it as the gifts of being fit far outway the comforts of the couch.

John Briley: Inspiring exaltation, Hesperia. Thank you for helping motivate the masses!

_______________________

Silver Spring, Curlygirl: I have recently taken to using a HRM to track my workouts. I've discovered that in classes like spinning, or on the treadmill, I'm almost always working at 85-95%, rather than the ~75% that is recommended for fat burning. I need to lose about 40 pounds. Should I be trying instead to work at 75%? I don't feel really, totally exhausted after 45 mins to an hour at 75%, but am concerned that regular workouts at 85%+ are part of the reason I'm craving sugar all the time. Am I overtraining? I do this workout 3-5 days a week and also do weights three days a week.

Craig Stoltz: Hey Curly,

Great job using an HRM, Curly. It's such a great way to know you're working "hard enough."

The big asterisk with HRMs, though, is that caluclating maximum heart rate is a very approximate business. Most HRMs will just use the 220-minus-your-age-in-years method of calculating your maximum, but according to the American Council on Exercise's manual for personal trainers, variations of 10 to 20 percent are common. (When the 220-minus calculation is compared to a treadmill EKG test, which is more reliable.)

The short answer: If you're at 85 to 95 percent, one of two things is going on: You're in great shape and your ticker is capable of staying in that high zone, or your "real" maximum HR is higher than the caluclation your HRM uses, and you're "really" working out at 60-75 percent of your max.

Either way, frankly, you're fine. As long as you're not finding yourself unable to catch your breath, feeling chest pain or really hurting the next day, you're likely working at a safe level.

Now: Onto the "fat-burning zone" part of the question: Ignore that phony distinction. As none other than my colleague John Briley has explained in a Moving Crew column, you'll burn more calories (and thus cutting more fat) at a higher HR than you will at a lower one. The fat-burning vs. cardio is really a finicky technical matter about what kind of cellular fuel is burned at different HRs. It's not meaningful to someone who is just trying to manage weight and improve fitness. I've never heard that working out at higher HR drives hunger or sweetness cravings moreso than the same amount of calories burned at a lower HR.

But many women, moreso than men, experience incerased appetite when working out a lot. Feed your cravings with healthier sweets, as in fruit, rather than in chocolate or candy or cake. As long as you're not injured or fatiguing your muscles, you're not overtraining. But *don't* train muscles that are sore. Always let the soreness recede before repeating the workout that caused it.

_______________________

Mitchellville, MD: Is there such thing as a better time of day to work out? Also, is it better to work out before or after a meal?

Craig Stoltz: Hey Mitch,

It sounds glib, but the best time of day to exercise is the time you're most likely to do it. Sticking to a program regularly is far more important than any minor benefit you may receive from choosing morning over afternoon or evening, etc. People who are *really* serious about competitive weightlifting or body building have theories on this, but most don't affect civilians like us.

I do know that people who study this stuff say there are reasons to time your eating relative to your workout, regardless of what time of day you do your workout.

Try to eat something with some carbohydrates (preferably whole-grain) 60-90 minutes before working out. That'll give you some energy and prevent you from getting sick or slowed by a full belly. After working out, many folks recommend a small meal that includes both protein and fat. This is one reason why those power bar things remain popular, despite tasting like tar and feathers.

_______________________

Washington, D.C.: Hello - My 68 year-old aunt is an avid walker, and believer in getting the heart pumping, but often complains of knots in her neck and back. I thought a yoga or stretching tape might help complement her walking routine, but while she's in good shape, a lot of the videos I see seem a little too limber for her. Any suggestions on titles? Is yoga the right way to go, or maybe straight stretching. Thanks for your thoughts!;

Susan Morse: Hi Washington,
That's a good idea you have--supplementing the walking with some flexibility exercises--and a thoughtful observation about the level she needs. Here are a couple of video titles that some of your fellow chatters and Moving Crew members have liked. A 72-year-old says the Prime Time Fitness videos (there are three) have a flexibility component; all three stress listening to your body so you don't overdo it. Also have a vote for Total Yoga, The Flow Series: Earth, 2001--a beginner's program.
Other suggestions out there for gentle, beginner stretching tapes or exercises?

_______________________

Rockville, MD: After finishing my first 10K a few weeks ago in exactly 1 hour, and encouraged by the result and my seeming ability to run fast for more than 20 minutes, I have decided to start running regularly. 30 minutes/3 miles three times a week to be exact.

My goal is to lose fat (I'm at about 20% body fat right now but want to go down about 2-3%) and about 10-15 pounds. I am a female, 26, 5'8" and 154lbs.

The problem is I find running for 30 minutes very boring. Is there any cardio out there that will give me the same high intensity workout and quick results but would be less monotonous and more fun? Or am I relegated to running to reach my goal?

John Briley: Hey Rockville - Congrats on the 10K and your new habit. I'm just like you" Recognize the benefits of running but find it really boring. A few suggestions:

Mix up your routes and your surfaces. Sometimes I run trails in Rock Creek Park (watch your ankles, especially with lots of leaves covering the rocks and divots) and sometimes on the residential roads in my neighborhood. One day I might take an architectural tour - cruising the blocks of old Victorians near my house ogling other people's exterior design - and some days I'll run up to the neighborhood high school track and see if my 1/4 mile time has improved.

It's all a game to keep me running.

Mountain biking is a great cardio blast, but does require the investment (you can get a decent beginner bike for around $500 - less if you buy used). There are some great trail systems in the area, one in Germantown, not far from Rockville.

Spinning classes run about 45 minutes to an hour and will DEFINITELY give you a cardio workout equal to most 30-minutes runs. 'Course, that requires a gym membership.

Anyone else have suggestions for Rockville?

_______________________

washingtonpost.com: Getting started on the cardio workout? Welcome to The Fact-Burning Zone.

_______________________

Tysons Corner, VA: Chats are always a pleasure.

With the temperatures dropping, I find it difficult to motivate myself to go out for a run or to bike. I would like to invest in either a stationery bike or treadmill. I prefer to run but treadmills are expensive!;!;(good ones are priced $1000+) Should I just a get the bike instead? Thanks for your time.

John Briley: Hi Tysons - My experience with home exercise gear is watching other people buy it and then, after the first few enthusiastic weeks, seeing it morph into a coat rack or cobweb display case in the basement. Craig has more experience, so he might weigh in, but my advice is: Spend a little more to get something you will use. One of the Moving Crew's main mantras is: You won't sustain an exercise program unless you enjoy at least part of it. So find the treadmill of your dreams, cut back on lattes or beers or other guilty pleasures for a while, and pay it off. The health and fitness benefits you reap will more than offset the sticker shock.

Here's a link to a Post story from last January on home gyms. Hope it helps!

_______________________

Tampa, Fl: I have a problem with earaches and jaw pain when I Rollerblade, bike or exercise in cooler weather. It is frustrating and I'm not sure what causes it or what I can do about it. Any suggestions?

Craig Stoltz: Hey Tampa, I just exhausted my list of online resources on athletic conditions and injuries, and I came up with nothing on ear pain and outdoor activity.

Anybody out there familiar with this phenomenon? Have you tried ear plugs, Tampa? That may clue you in on what the source may be. . .

_______________________

Susan Morse: For the woman looking for a not-too-rigorous stretch tape or CD for her aunt, here's another suggestion, if it's still available: Karen Voight's Pure & Simple Stretch (1991). I haven't tried it myself, but I reviews on it make me think it might just do the trick. Said to be easy to follow, with different grade levels, and involves head and neck stretches. Good luck!

_______________________

EaglePass Tx.: Is weight lifting three times a week for half an hour okay? And if so do I still need to walk.

Craig Stoltz: Hey Eagle,

Like so many fitness questions, the answer is "it depends what your goals are." If your goal is general fitness and health, half an hour of strength training three times a week is excellent, and consitent with what most fitness groups recommend.

If you're worried that 30 minutes doesn't let you get a whole body workout, you should investigate exercises that work multiple body parts, rather than just one. For instance, a bicep curl pretty much just works your bicept muscle. Flyes work your biceps, forearms, pecs, even your back and backs of your shoulders. Lunges work your quads, calves, and glutes. Etc.

If you're primarily interested in body building, multi-body-part exercises won't do the trick; they spread the work out too far to provide the bulk you might want in your chest, say.

But if you're interested in fitness, choose half a dozen exercises that involve multiple body parts, do two sets of each (minimal rest in between) and you'll get a full-body workout in minimal time.

Walking will do two things: Burn calories (and therefore help you control your weight) and, if done briskly, provide cardiovascular benefits by taxing your heart and lungs. Try to strike a pace where you are able to hold a conversation with a bit of effort; that's a good pace to make sure you're getting some cardio benefit.

If you're fit enough to be doing strenght work three times a week, you'll derive no stregth benefits from additional walking.

Good luck out there, and let us know how you're doing. . .

_______________________

Alexandria, VA: What's the best alternative of way to adjust running if you suffer from tendonitis when running more than 5-6 miles a week?

John Briley: Hey Va - The three factors to look out are your running form, your shoes and the history of the tendinitis. Re form, I have become a shameless promoter of a book called Chi Running, by Danny Dreyer, which carries fabulous advice on body positioning to eliminate pain while running. It is well-written and well-delivered counsel. One of the main points is your forward lean: You want to lean - from your ankles - when you run so that your feet to hit the ground directly under or behind you, NOT in front - that produces way more impact for your ankles and, especially, knees.

Not sure where your tendinitis is (knee? foot? ankle? hip?), but a bad (i.e., worn out) pair of shoes can cause impact to shockwave up well beyond your foot and aggravate the condition. Also, different people's feet do different things when running, and the shoes often can accommodate these movements. Take your shoes into a running store and talk to an expert.

Lastly, does this tendinitis predate your running habit? Or was it brought on by running? That will help determine if it really is your form that's causing it. You may need physical therapy - which likely will combine some rest and ice with home stretches and exercises. See next week's Moving Crew column for more details on this.

And feel better.

_______________________

Rockville, MD: Thanks for the running suggestions!; Unfortunately I can only run outside on the weekend because it's too dark nowadays when I can run. I do have a gym membership but find biking/spinning painful - just can't seem to sit on those seats for a long time... So treadmills are the only high intesity option I see for me.

Do ellipticals give the same workout as running?

Craig Stoltz: Hey Rockville:

If you want to give biking another try, choose one of those recumbent style stationary bikes, if your club has one. Like you, I can't abide sitting on a narrow bike seat for too long. By comparison, a recumbent bike is like a barcalounger. In fact, I find I have a harder time getting my HR elevated as much on a recumbent machine, because I feel so relaxed.

As for ellipticals: Yes, they'll work you as hard, and harder, than a treadmill. I'm a big fan of them, especially on the days when I'm not doing strenght workouts. Ellipticals eliminate pounding on your joints, and involve your arms and chest in the rhythmic cardio work. I find I can sweat as much, and elevate my HR as much, on an elliptical as when I use a treadmill.

Godspeed, Rockville! Let us know how it goes.

_______________________

NOrth Carolina: Hey crew... I need some help... ever since we changed the clocks back, I have been physically unable to get out of bed early enough to hit the gym before work. Going after work is not an option (too much to do!;)... how do I un-slumpify myself???

Susan Morse: Hey there, NC,

Know what you mean. I sometimes think we were all meant to be hibernating from November through February. If exercising after work isn't an option, you're left with two options. (Well, okay, three....if you want to count moving south. But back to reality...) Either you look for ways to up the energy quotient during the day--climb the stairs to your office and forgo the elevator, take a brisk walk at lunch, get off the Metro a stop sooner and walk the rest of the way, etc. Or tease yourself out of bed earlier with the promise of a hot breakfast or 5 minutes more to read the paper once you exercise. ... It's tough. I know. Going to bed earlier might also help. Good luck. Let us know what works.

_______________________

Alexandria, VA: Idea for bored runner: I too am trying to get into a fitness routine that I find enjoyable and have found that the most fun cardio workout for me is dancing. I put on an upbeat CD and dance around the apartment for 30 to 45 minutes. I'm not sure how many calories I burn, but I definitely get my heartrate up.

My question: At 5'9" and 125 lbs, I definitely do not need to lose weight. What is the best way for me be fit and put on five to seven pounds? I have cut out most meat except fish, dairy except for special occasions, and all processed foods (sugar, white flour, etc) for health reasons. I feel good, but the side effect was a fairly significant drop in weight (10+ pounds in three weeks). Ideas?

John Briley: Yikes, 10 pounds in three weeks?!? Sounds like a lot, especially given your already-lean physique (I say, based on your height and weight).

You might want to return here Tuesday at 1 p.m. for Sally Squires' Lean Plate Club chat - she's better informed to answer this question from a dietary perspective.

Fitness-wise, make sure you include strength training in your program, which will help build body mass (don't worry, you won't bulk out if you keep up the cardio as well) and eat balanced meals.

And thanks for the dancing tip - great idea!

_______________________

Craig Stoltz: Not That Anybody Asked (tm):

I've found a way to use my HRM to extend my cardio fitness.

I do a core fitness workout every other day, consisting of crunches, reverse crunches, stuff on the stability ball and medicine ball, etc. I do the six exercises as a circuit, meaning no rest between exercises; I do the circuit two or three times, taking about 20 minutes.

Just for kicks, I strapped on my HRM during this workout, and discovered my heart rate stayed in the 60-85 zone the entire time, dipping close to 60 and then jumping way up while performing the movements. My HR even stayed in my zone (though just barely) as I did five minutes of stretching afterwards.

So essentially, I found by doing my core work in a circuit rather than in straight sets with rest, I'm extending my cardio work, giving myself another 25 minutes or so in my cardio zone. If I add 15 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical, I'm golden!

My point: Try to do your strength work in circuits, with minimal rest, and use an HRM. You'll likely find this is a great way to double up and get both cardio and strength value from a limited amount of time.

Not That Anybody Asked (tm)

_______________________

Mountain biking is a great cardio blast, but does require the investment (you can get a decent beginner bike for around $500 - less if you buy used). There are some great trail systems in the area, one in Germantown, not far from Rockville. Spinning classes run about 45 minutes to an hour and will DEFINITELY give you a cardio workout equal to most 30-minutes runs. 'Course, that requires a gym membership.Anyone else have suggestions for Rockville?

_______________________

washingtonpost.com: Getting started on the cardio workout? Welcome to The Fact-Burning Zone.

_______________________

Tysons Corner, VA: Chats are always a pleasure.

With the temperatures dropping, I find it difficult to motivate myself to go out for a run or to bike. I would like to invest in either a stationery bike or treadmill. I prefer to run but treadmills are expensive!;!;(good ones are priced $1000+) Should I just a get the bike instead? Thanks for your time.

John Briley: Hi Tysons - My experience with home exercise gear is watching other people buy it and then, after the first few enthusiastic weeks, seeing it morph into a coat rack or cobweb display case in the basement. Craig has more experience, so he might weigh in, but my advice is:

Spend a little more to get something you will use. One of the Moving Crew's main mantras is: You won't sustain an exercise program unless you enjoy at least part of it. So find the treadmill of your dreams, cut back on lattes or beers or other guilty pleasures for a while, and pay it off. The health and fitness benefits you reap will more than offset the sticker shock.

Here's a link to a Post story from last January on home gyms. Hope it helps!

_______________________

Tampa, Fl: I have a problem with earaches and jaw pain when I Rollerblade, bike or exercise in cooler weather. It is frustrating and I'm not sure what causes it or what I can do about it. Any suggestions?

Craig Stoltz: Hey Tampa, I just exhausted my list of online resources on athletic conditions and injuries, and I came up with nothing on ear pain and outdoor activity.

Anybody out there familiar with this phenomenon? Have you tried ear plugs, Tampa? That may clue you in on what the source may be. . .

_______________________

Susan Morse: For the woman looking for a not-too-rigorous stretch tape or CD for her aunt, here's another suggestion, if it's still available: Karen Voight's Pure & Simple Stretch (1991). I haven't tried it myself, but I reviews on it make me think it might just do the trick. Said to be easy to follow, with different grade levels, and involves head and neck stretches. Good luck!

_______________________

EaglePass Tx.: Is weight lifting three times a week for half an hour okay? And if so do I still need to walk.

Craig Stoltz: Hey Eagle,

Like so many fitness questions, the answer is "it depends what your goals are." If your goal is general fitness and health, half an hour of strength training three times a week is excellent, and consitent with what most fitness groups recommend.

If you're worried that 30 minutes doesn't let you get a whole body workout, you should investigate exercises that work multiple body parts, rather than just one. For instance, a bicep curl pretty much just works your bicept muscle. Flyes work your biceps, forearms, pecs, even your back and backs of your shoulders. Lunges work your quads, calves, and glutes. Etc.

If you're primarily interested in body building, multi-body-part exercises won't do the trick; they spread the work out too far to provide the bulk you might want in your chest, say.

But if you're interested in fitness, choose half a dozen exercises that involve multiple body parts, do two sets of each (minimal rest in between) and you'll get a full-body workout in minimal time.

Walking will do two things: Burn calories (and therefore help you control your weight) and, if done briskly, provide cardiovascular benefits by taxing your heart and lungs. Try to strike a pace where you are able to hold a conversation with a bit of effort; that's a good pace to make sure you're getting some cardio benefit.

If you're fit enough to be doing strenght work three times a week, you'll derive no stregth benefits from additional walking.

Good luck out there, and let us know how you're doing. . .

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Alexandria, VA: What's the best alternative of way to adjust running if you suffer from tendonitis when running more than 5-6 miles a week?

John Briley: Hey Va - The three factors to look out are your running form, your shoes and the history of the tendinitis. Re form, I have become a shameless promoter of a book called Chi Running, by Danny Dreyer, which carries fabulous advice on body positioning to eliminate pain while running. It is well-written and well-delivered counsel. One of the main points is your forward lean: You want to lean - from your ankles - when you run so that your feet to hit the ground directly under or behind you, NOT in front - that produces way more impact for your ankles and, especially, knees.

Not sure where your tendinitis is (knee? foot? ankle? hip?), but a bad (i.e., worn out) pair of shoes can cause impact to shockwave up well beyond your foot and aggravate the condition. Also, different people's feet do different things when running, and the shoes often can accommodate these movements. Take your shoes into a running store and talk to an expert.

Lastly, does this tendinitis predate your running habit? Or was it brought on by running? That will help determine if it really is your form that's causing it. You may need physical therapy - which likely will combine some rest and ice with home stretches and exercises. See next week's Moving Crew column for more details on this.

And feel better.

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Rockville, MD: Thanks for the running suggestions!; Unfortunately I can only run outside on the weekend because it's too dark nowadays when I can run. I do have a gym membership but find biking/spinning painful - just can't seem to sit on those seats for a long time... So treadmills are the only high intesity option I see for me.

Do ellipticals give the same workout as running?

Craig Stoltz: Hey Rockville:

If you want to give biking another try, choose one of those recumbent style stationary bikes, if your club has one. Like you, I can't abide sitting on a narrow bike seat for too long. By comparison, a recumbent bike is like a barcalounger. In fact, I find I have a harder time getting my HR elevated as much on a recumbent machine, because I feel so relaxed.

As for ellipticals: Yes, they'll work you as hard, and harder, than a treadmill. I'm a big fan of them, especially on the days when I'm not doing strenght workouts. Ellipticals eliminate pounding on your joints, and involve your arms and chest in the rhythmic cardio work. I find I can sweat as much, and elevate my HR as much, on an elliptical as when I use a treadmill.

Godspeed, Rockville! Let us know how it goes.

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NOrth Carolina: Hey crew... I need some help... ever since we changed the clocks back, I have been physically unable to get out of bed early enough to hit the gym before work. Going after work is not an option (too much to do!;)... how do I un-slumpify myself???

Susan Morse: Hey there, NC,

Know what you mean. I sometimes think we were all meant to be hibernating from November through February. If exercising after work isn't an option, you're left with two options. (Well, okay, three....if you want to count moving south. But back to reality...) Either you look for ways to up the energy quotient during the day--climb the stairs to your office and forgo the elevator, take a brisk walk at lunch, get off the Metro a stop sooner and walk the rest of the way, etc. Or tease yourself out of bed earlier with the promise of a hot breakfast or 5 minutes more to read the paper once you exercise. ... It's tough. I know. Going to bed earlier might also help. Good luck. Let us know what works.

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Alexandria, VA: Idea for bored runner: I too am trying to get into a fitness routine that I find enjoyable and have found that the most fun cardio workout for me is dancing. I put on an upbeat CD and dance around the apartment for 30 to 45 minutes. I'm not sure how many calories I burn, but I definitely get my heartrate up.

My question: At 5'9" and 125 lbs, I definitely do not need to lose weight. What is the best way for me be fit and put on five to seven pounds? I have cut out most meat except fish, dairy except for special occasions, and all processed foods (sugar, white flour, etc) for health reasons. I feel good, but the side effect was a fairly significant drop in weight (10+ pounds in three weeks). Ideas?

John Briley: Yikes, 10 pounds in three weeks?!? Sounds like a lot, especially given your already-lean physique (I say, based on your height and weight).

You might want to return here Tuesday at 1 p.m. for Sally Squires' Lean Plate Club chat - she's better informed to answer this question from a dietary perspective.

Fitness-wise, make sure you include strength training in your program, which will help build body mass (don't worry, you won't bulk out if you keep up the cardio as well) and eat balanced meals.

And thanks for the dancing tip - great idea!

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Craig Stoltz: Not That Anybody Asked (tm):

I've found a way to use my HRM to extend my cardio fitness.

I do a core fitness workout every other day, consisting of crunches, reverse crunches, stuff on the stability ball and medicine ball, etc. I do the six exercises as a circuit, meaning no rest between exercises; I do the circuit two or three times, taking about 20 minutes.

Just for kicks, I strapped on my HRM during this workout, and discovered my heart rate stayed in the 60-85 zone the entire time, dipping close to 60 and then jumping way up while performing the movements. My HR even stayed in my zone (though just barely) as I did five minutes of stretching afterwards.

So essentially, I found by doing my core work in a circuit rather than in straight sets with rest, I'm extending my cardio work, giving myself another 25 minutes or so in my cardio zone. If I add 15 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical, I'm golden!

My point: Try to do your strength work in circuits, with minimal rest, and use an HRM. You'll likely find this is a great way to double up and get both cardio and strength value from a limited amount of time.

Not That Anybody Asked (tm)

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