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Thursday, Feb. 24, 11 a.m. ET

Moving Crew: Fitting in Fitness

Thursday, February 24, 2005; 11:00 AM

You need to get moving.

Let's face it, we all do to boost our chances of staying healthy and energetic, regardless of age and athletic inclination.

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

Having trouble finding time for that workout? Looking for a time to squeeze in a run between errands? The Crew may have some suggestions for you.

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

Join Health section editor Craig Stoltz, assistant editor Susan Morse, staff writer Sally Squires and section contributor John Briley, Thursdays at 11 a.m. ET.

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.

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John Briley: Good morning from snowy D.C.! We do hope that despite (or because of, or irrelevant to) the weather you are finding the time and motivation to exercise, and we hope even more that you're enjoying it. Today's theme: Tell us how you fit exercise into your busy life.

Do you incorporate exercise into tasks, like chasing your kids around the house, or into work, like running from your boss? Do you get up psychotically early to go running or hit the gym, or do you stay up late, doing crunches while watching the Daily Show? Or is it a matter of squeezing lil' bits o' fitness in wherever you can?

Share all ideas, because what may seem obvious to you could be just what a fellow Moving Crewmember needs to get and stay on track.

And of course, as always, we will take the full range of fitness-related questions, suggestions and rants that has made the Moving Crew chat famous (at least at my desk). Here we go...

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Craig Stoltz: Fit It In Tip #1: When watching TV, kick off your shoes and stand on one leg. It's harder than you think. Once you can do it for 60 seconds, close your eyes and try to do it. It's even harder, since you are using nothing but your "proprioception," the network between nerves and brain that tells you to keep your body vertical. More challenge: Use a wobble board. Or toss a light medicine ball between your hands. Benefit: improves balance, works small, deep muscles in the feet, ankles and legs. [Note: I've actually done this. Often enough to worry my family. I promise not to offer Fit It In tips I haven't tried myself.]

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Fairfax, VA: Hi guys,

I went to the gym last night and worked my legs using the circuit machines. I thought I worked them pretty hard... I was actually afraid they might cramp up at the end, so I stretched immediately following. I thought they'd be sore this morning, but they're perfectly fine. Am I working myself hard enough?

John Briley: Hi Fairfax - If you thought you worked them hard - based on perceived exertion and/or number of reps - you probably did. We, as a species, are pretty perceptive and we know what requires muscle power. You don't need to feel sore after every workout to derive benefit.

You should feel like you're engaging the muscles with each repetition and that toward the end of each set you are running low on the power required to keep lifting. Some people like to lift to failure, meaning they couldn't do even one more rep at the weight they're using, and - while that method will almost guarantee increased muscle mass - you can still get a good workout and not feel sore the next day if you don't go that far.

Shoot for three sets of 8 to 12 reps for each exercise OR one set of 12 to 15, where you do get at least close to failure. Make sense?

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Washington, DC: I hate exercise in the morning and work until about 7pm. So I go to the gym in the evening. I do about an hour on the elliptical. I'm 22 and weigh 155lbs, normal and healthy but I'd like to loose just a few pounds. For weight loss is it better to stick at a higher heart rate- say 160-180 or keep it between 130-150. I usually do three minutes at a lower resistance and then bump it up to a higher resistance for three, and repeat. I'm just not sure which is the better path for the results I want.

Craig Stoltz: Hi Washington, congrats on keeping with a good schedule. I've often been a nighttime exerciser too, and enjoy the post-workout relaxation before bed.

Ignore the distinction about "fat-burning" occurring at lower heart rates. It's true--your body does dip into stored fat more so at lower rates; at higher rates in feeds on glycogen, a sugar. But that's a finicky, almost pedantic distinction. Bottom line for most average exercisers: you'll burn more total calories working out at a higher rate.

And, as for your three-minutes easier/three-minutes harder, that's excellent, a great way to maximize cardio vascular benefits and calorie burn in a given amount of time. It's called interval training (You burn more calories later, after exercise, when you do intervals compared to when you do steady-state training.)

As you improve, and lose more weight, try to reach a higher hr for your "sprint" periods and try to shorten your recovery periods. (i.e., shoot for 85 percent max hr during your sprints, and do two minutes fast, one minute slow, then two fast, one slow again. For what it's worth, I have a hard time sustaining sprints at 85-90 percent max hr longer than a minute or two).

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Frederick, Md.: Do you have to give your muscles a rest if your goal is to burn fat rather than build muscle? I'm unable to lift weights right now due to minor back and hand injuries. So, I'm focusing on aerobics and burning fat. I did Tae Bo yesterday morning and walked 2.5 miles in the evening. This morning, my legs are sore, but I did the Tae Bo anyway and was planning to walk again. Good or bad idea?

John Briley: Freddie - In general, if your muscles are sore it is best to rest them. That's their signal to you that they need time to recover and are in the process of repairing torn fibers. Even if you don't care about building muscle, the more strain you put on a sore muscle, the more likely it is you will injure yourself because your body will naturally steer pressure away from the tender muscle, meaning you could tear a ligament, or twist an ankle.

Now, you can still exercise when sore, just try to focus on non-sore areas or go light on the pegs on those days. So today, yes, you can walk, just listen to your body and don't over-do it. This will also leave you in better shape for tomorrow's bigger workout!

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washingtonpost.com: Having trouble getting motivated? What if you could listen to your trainer while working out alone? Read this week's Moving Crew column and check out some of the latest fitness technology.

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Fairfax, VA: Why is it so hard for us plus sized ladies to find good exercise clothes at reasonable prices? I decided this year I want to walk in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, and so I've started my training. It was almost impossible for me to find the clothes I needed to train in (wicking style) in my size - 20/22. Every place I've gone to seems to only go up to an XL - which is equivalent to a women's size 16. Needless to say not helpful, and most of the "customer service" people at these places were rude to me at best. I had to actually buy guys' sizes in everything (but I did manage to find a sports bra from moving comfort Thank you REI for your help). Are there any companies out there that will cater to us plus size women in exercise wear or because we are so heavy are we not considered marketable???

Thanks in advance for all answers and suggestions!;

Craig Stoltz: Fairfax, you raise a great issue: The fitness industry *has* to accommodate the many, many people who are not currently in good shape but are trying to improve. This goes for machines that can accommodate big people, classes that work for big people and clothing too.

I know of no sources of fitness wear for bigger folks, however. Have you tried any of the bigger ladies' clothing stores? Seems like some enlightened retailer can find a niche there.

Any clicksters have suggestions?

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Washington, DC: How to fit exercise in...

I work about 2.5 miles away from my home, so when I can, I walk home. It takes a grand total of ten minutes longer than the commute by public transportation, and I don't have to take the time to work out at home (which is the other thing I do). If I don't walk home, I spend a half hour in front of the TV on a mini-stair stepper, before dinner.

Of course, there are other things too. I take the stairs whenever possible (anything under four flights is fair game), I take circuitous routes to the bathroom, I leave the office and walk around the block. Stuff like that.

Craig Stoltz: excellent suggestions, Washington. I think a lot of folks would find their commute walk able if they just thought about it differently. In a famous case here at Post HQ, a chunky employee who lived in Georgetown walked to work every day for a year and wound up incredibly slim and fit.

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Washington, D.C.: I have an odd question. When I work out on the treadmill, I have a big problem with chafing from my bra where my arms brush against my chest (on the inside, but top, of my arms). It's a great bra, from Title IX, and one of the few that give me enough support to do any high impact activities. But that repetitive motion gets very painful, and it limits how often I can use the treadmill. Has anyone else had a similar problem--and, more importantly, does anyone have a suggestion on how to avoid the problem?

Craig Stoltz: Anyone?

I also have chafing problems (though not from a bra, honest), and use Gold Bond Medicated Powder. Works for me.

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Honolulu, Hawaii: Can the number of required minutes of daily exercise be the sum of more than one short session (say at least ten minutes) or do you recommend doing the exercise in one session, in which the person works out over a longer, sustained period of time?

John Briley: Hey Hawaii! (I REALLY had to resist saying 'aloha')

Either/or is great. The key is that your daily total adds up to 30 minutes or more (some populations need 60 to 90 minutes; we will post a link to our column on this topic below).

The experts say this: Whatever formula will yield 30 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily is what individuals should do. For me, the 10-minute bouts would never work. I like to sweat, to get in a rhythm, to run a certain distance. So I *need* to pile it on all at once. Someone else (you. maybe) can't bear the thought of 45 consecutive minutes of running or biking, so that person should split it up.

I personally find it tough to get my heart rate up for such a short span than drop back down again, de-sweat, and return to work/family/hobbies. But that's just me.

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Greenbelt, MD: I try to walk around our building complex at lunchtime, on days when I don't go to the gym. But when the weather's bad, I duck into our building's stairwell and, starting from the bottom floor, jog up and then down the eight flights of stairs. Okay, I usually end up slogging, not jogging, the last few flights. But it's quick and to the point, gets my heart rate right up there.

Craig Stoltz: That's great, Greenbelt. Thanks for the Fit It In tip.

Truth told, as hard as I've been pressed during certain life parts to get exercise, I've never done this. Post HQ is nine stories; I really should give it a try sometime when I can't make it to the gym.

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Washington, DC: We have all heard that there are good and bad times to get in your daily work out. Is this actually true? If so, when is the best time to work out that gives your body the optimal energy boost?

John Briley: Yes, D.C., we have all heard it, but the Moving Crew ran that one to the ground (last winter, I recall) and the answer is: Exercise when you have the time, motivation, energy or appropriate combo. You may be able to boost you daily metabolism by working out first thing in the a.m., but if that's a horrid time of day for you and you're not going to stick with that time frame, then that miniscule metabolic benefit is lost.

I recall John McEnroe losing a match (sometime in the 1980s) and telling the announcer, "I just don't get up this early usually. My reflexes were off."

So get out there when you can. Try a few different times of day for a week or so and see what feels best.

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John Briley: Here's our column on how much exercise you need, per the U.S. government guidelines: www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6406-2005Feb7.html

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Washington D.C.: I recently started back exercising to lose weight after having my son in 2001 and two failed abortions with the most recent last year. I am 5'7 and I weigh 200 pounds, but the weight is only in my rear, hips and thighs. I have been trying to eat right and I use the glider everyday for 30 minutes or 2 miles which ever is longer and I alternate with sit-ups, pushups, and other exercise. Do you have any advice that you can give me to help me achieve an ideal weight before my renewing of my vows in June?

Craig Stoltz: Hi Washington, congrats for your resolve in getting back to exercise; marriage is a new chapter, and starting out with healthy habits is a great gift to you both.

As we always say: you can't spot-reduce; you have to lose the weight everywhere to get it off the trouble spots.

All that said: most exercise programs don't really give much flexibility and muscle work around the hips. And you can tone up and improve the function in that area by doing: lunges; squats; "donkey kickbacks"; and "fire hydrants." (look up the last two on Google using "exercise" "hips" and those exercise names for examples). Squat and lunge form is *very important* to avoiding injury, and start slow.

As for your cardio: People's bodies accommodate fairly quickly to specific exercise. I'm not sure what the "glider" you describe is (I assume it's some sort of home elliptical machine?). But alternate it with walking, doing exercise tapes, other things that elevate your heart rate. That'll shock your body out of any plateaus you find.
People get too devoted to what feels comfortable. Staying fresh, surprising your body with new movements, are much more effective at improving fitness.

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Washington, DC: I need some advice. On days when it is too cold or wet to run outside - like today - I run on a treadmill in my building's gym. It has three treadmills, a few bikes and elliptical, weight equipment, etc. There is a man who I see there occasionally who smells so terribly of body odor, it has overwhelmed me during my workout. After all, I'm breathing in heavily the whole time!; Also, sometimes the cleaning ladies come in and use these terribly toxic cleaning chemicals on the equipment, and I actually get lightheaded from the fumes. What can I say or do about these different, yet similar, problems? Should I perhaps contact the management?

Craig Stoltz: Carry a pine-tree air freshener and hang it from the guy's ear.

Talk to management about timing the cleaning so it doesn't affect exercisers. As for the Stink Bomber: I got nuttin'. Anybody?

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Cambridge, MA: How much is it true that adding muscle causes weight gain? I've always kind of thought that this is just something people say but (at least in most cases) isn't really true.

also for the person with chaffing on their arms, I would recommend exercising in a t-shirt with sleeves that simply doesn't allow their arms to rub against the bra. I've never actually had this problem but it seems like it would be worth a shot.

Craig Stoltz: Hi Cambridge,

Yes, it's true. A cubic inch of muscle weighs more than a cubic inch of fat. So as you replace fat with muscle, you may indeed gain weight (this happens mostly with people who carry less than 10 or 15 extra pounds, though).

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Ignore the scale. Take key body measures--chest, waist-at-the-navel, thigh and bicep circumference, widest part of hips--and re-measure every two weeks or so. Or simply monitor how your clothes fit. If your goal is to reshape your body, as it is for most folks, these are the meaningful measures, not what the scale says.

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Bethesda, MD: We're a two-lawyer family (I'm a travel-a-lot litigator), have one toddler, and I'm pregnant, so I think I qualify as "busy." I get my exercise in by rewarding myself with TV (which is otherwise not an option). We have an elliptical at home. I TIVO my favorite one-hour shows (like CSI) and 5 nights a week at 8:30pm (after daughter is in bed and kitchen is reasonably clean) I work out for the 40-45 minutes that the show is on. Granted, I like my Tuesday and Friday off days best, but it's worse to feel out of shape. On the road, I hit the hotel gym in the AM.

Craig Stoltz: Very impressive, counselor!

(I've never been able to arrange a room with our treadmill positioned well for the TV, without wrecking the feng shui or, more to the point, marital bliss.)

And here's to a "reasonably clean" kitchen and a fit mom! Far better than an immaculate kitchen and a grouchy, enervated, unhealthy mom.

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Somerset, N.J.: Several weeks ago I caught a stray remark from one of you not directly related to the main thread about using an inclined treadmill. I believe that one of you remarked that increasing the height (the "inclination?") of the treadmill could prove harder on knees.

Could you speak to this question? I use an inclined treadmill with very little height on it. I have the capability of increasing the height to increase the workout level, but I would not do this if it put my knees at risk - I am determined not to wear them out!;

John Briley: Hi Somerset - Glad to know you all are paying attention. Running uphill *could* be harder on your knees because as you push through the leg to elevate yourself, you are asking the entire leg to work harder, including that crucial joint.

Now, many mitigating factors: If you run with poor form on flats and/or downhill, you can slaughter your knees without ever running up a hill. Bad form = extending your stride in front of you so that each step brings all of your body weight down on the knee. Better form is to lean forward - from the ankles, NOT the waist - so that you stride extends behind you. If you do this (again, on flats) and use your hips and abs to lift your legs for each stride, your knees won't take too bad a beating.

On hills, including inclined treadmills, the key is to shorten your stride, maintain the forward lean and run 'lightly' - i.e., by REALLY focusing on using your abs to lift the legs and not pounding each step.

So you are safe in boosting the incline to increase intensity, but maintain good form. Try it at first (as I do) with intervals: Get warmed up, then do a set of three (or four or five) intervals where you crank incline up to 3.0 for 30 seconds, then back down for a minute, then back up, etc... Run another four minutes and repeat the intervals. Or ease into even more and see how you feel the next day.

Good question. Thanks!

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Hyattsville, MD: When I worked downtown, I was pretty good about running, doing the stair machine, elliptical, or swimming - all exercises one can do on one's own.

Here's the problem. I've been in grad school at the Univ. of Maryland for the last two years and I have become ADDICTED to their group aerobics classes. For $25/semester, you can go to all the step aerobics, deep water aerobics, spinning, free weight training, etc classes that you want!; This is (hopefully) my final semester of grad school. I've tried to add some individual sessions to my group courses to get myself ready for when I graduate, but I just can't get motivated. What to do? What to do?? How can I get excited about the treadmill again? Or am I a lost cause? I'm thinking I may have to spring for a pricey alumni membership!;

Thanks!;

Craig Stoltz: Congrats on your conversion, Hyattsville.

Have you considered going on for a PhD? (Or *another* PhD?)

All seriousness aside, folks: Sounds to me like you are going to need to join a full-service fitness center with a big list of classes. Fitness First clubs are probably the most affordable that fit that description. (I think they're $40 a month or less.)

Expensive? Yes. But not exercising--which sounds like it could be the outcome if you try to go back to solo workouts--would be far more costly.

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Washington, DC: Please help!; I want to buy a stability ball but can't figure out what size to buy. I'm just less than 5'5" and weigh about 200lbs.

thanks so much!;

Craig Stoltz: You want the 55 cm ball.

None of the major brands you'll find at a reputable retailer is prone to breaking. But the "burst proof" variety collapse slowly if they *do* break, reducing chance of injury. I bought a cheap HomeMedics brand, with a foot pump, for $25. I'm sitting on it as we speak!

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Washington D.C.: Please help!; Each weekend, I go for a long run (7 miles or so). Sometimes I feel fine afterward, but a lot of the time I feel unbelievably nauseus soon after finishing my cooldown and stretches. I drink a good amount of water before and after, so think I am hydrated, and cool down well, or so I think. Can you explain what this is, and what I can do to prevent it?

John Briley: Hi D.C. - I confess to some bafflement here, so let me ask you a couple questions:

1. Is this the major run of your week, or do you do other longish runs (4 or more miles) on other days?

2. Are you getting any other noteworthy exercise during the week?

3. Do you have any other gastrointestinal or dietary issues - that is, do you feel queasy at other inexplicable times?

4. What do you eat before running and how long in advance do you eat?

Answers to all of those may provide some clues. It may be that your body, having been at relative rest all week, is reacting to the sudden spike in exertion. It may have something to do with the coffee or other food/drink you ingest two hours before running (but I'm not a nutritionist, so just a guess there).

Again, not sure of your answer to #1, but it is better to strive for consistency on your weekly workout routine, doing a little every day, vs. trying to squeeze in one or two major workouts per week with little else.

If we run out of time here, email answers to move@washpost.com, and we'll see what we can learn.

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Chevy Chase, Md.: I'm new to the D.C. metro area, and was wondering about the "real" membership costs at local health clubs. In Southern California (where I'm from) the membership fees can usually be negotiated down from the official advertised fees. For example, my health club membership fee in SoCal was $30 a month, less than half of the advertised price of about 65$ a month. Does the same type of negotiation process happen with health clubs here, or do you have to pretty much take the adverstised fee they offer? Thanks for your help!;

John Briley: My experience is that you should shop around and, once you find the gym you really want, try to negotiate. It's a competitive field and they really want members, so you have some leverage. Gyms love to run limited-time specials and, if you're aware of one of those, even if you missed the deadline, sometimes they'll cut you a deal.

Not sure if you're working in D.C., or have friends, etc., but many employers have discount deals with gyms and many clubs offer friends memberships, or shared-househoold deals. You should be able save some money off of published rates.

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Chafing problem: For the girl with the chafing problem - try using Body Glide - it's in stick form and looks like a tube of deodorant. You can get it at most sports stores (I know City Sports definitely sells it) and cycling stores. Triathletes use it under their wesuits to prevent chafing. Also, is the sports bra dry-wick material or cotton? Because I've had the same problem with cotton sports bras, but never the dry wick ones like the Nike or Under Armour.

John Briley: Thanks for the tip!

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Lower body: Somewhat related to earlier post...by nature/genetics I am slightly heavier in my lower body than upper. My upper body tones very easily but I'm having more probs with the lower half. I work out 6 days a week running, doing elliptical, squats, bike, leg presses, etc. My diet is pretty good and if anything I'm probably on the lower side of normal (5'6"- 121). Is there anything I can do to somewhat reduce, or at least better tone my lower half???

Craig Stoltz: Hi LB:

In addition to the exercises I suggested above (some of which you're doing, but do investigage donkey kicks and fire hydrants):

If your heart-lungs-joints are in good shape via regular exercise--and it sounds like they are--try running on a treadmill (or in real life, on earth) and mix in brief sprints. The higher, more intense strides of faster running do target muscles in your hips, upper thighs, etc. that don't get hit with ellipticizing, jogging, etc.

One of my favorites: lunges with medicine ball twist. Hold a medicine ball in front of you, at arms' length. Lunge forward with left leg (don't let your knee pass your toe line on the front leg) then turn your body to the left, so the ball is facing directly "west". Switch legs, don't rest between. Do until you're panting like a hot dog. It's a great exercise for your core, your legs, your hips.

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Washington, DC: Recovering from a cold & still coughing a bit - yes/no to hitting the gym for some cardio (about 20-30 mins vs 45-60 normally) and weights? Thanks!;

Craig Stoltz: I'm no doctor, but: Very, very light workouts. Walk on the treadmill, so some easy stretching. No weights.

Raising your body temp is not a good idea now, and neither is risking diverting an immune systems that's probably pretty busy into recovering from your workout.

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Oxon Hill, Md.: To DC re: bra question. I had that problem several years ago when I was training with the Leukemia Society (s/p?) Team In Training. As a result, I've developed a patch of fat just above my bra line on the side of my rib cage. In any event, I now wear the sports bras that work almost like a T-shirt. I find them much more comfortable, and it would probably help in your situation (chaffing) too.

Craig Stoltz: Thanks, Oxon. (Some day we should do a chat just about sport bras. These issues come up a lot. . .)

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Silver Spring, Md.: I notice that in the winter I'm often more tired during the day even when exercising. In the summer, it actually helps invigorate me. Do you think there is anything to the lack of daylight that may effect this (e.g., the winter "blahs") or do you think this is in my head?
Just curious. Thanks.

John Briley: Hi Silver Spring: I do not know the science on it (and thus could get myself in trouble here), but anecdotally speaking, there definitely is something to the lack of daylight and the naturally slower biorhythms many of us experience in winter. Much as we try to ignore it, we are a species of animals and, like many others, we have a hibernation tendancy in winter. I could go on, but without solid science to quote I will stop here, with the promise to research this before our next chat in two weeks.

Thanks!

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Washington D.C.: Hi - probably too late but here it goes:
I've recently joined a TaeKwonDo class b/c I needed a new challenge. Boy did I find it here. We have exhaustion drills start the class, and yeah, i'm exhausted afterwards. 100 jumping jacks/ 20 jack knives/10 toasters/ 15 crunches...everything must be done in perfect form and as fast as possible. I'm pretty useless after this, and this is in the first 20 minutes of class!; Any suggestions to keep up my stamina and/or keep up? I'm thinking that doing these on a regular basis (outside of class) will get me used to this type of training. Kamsa Ham Ni Da (Korean for thanks)

Craig Stoltz: Hi DC, three cheers for taking on something new and hard--and finding something that's such a good physical challenge.

Sounds like you're on the right track: yes, practice on your own. But: *don't* do a class/private workout on successive days. You gotta rest between. You'll wear your body out doing exercises like that on a daily basis.

I have heard from folks who get hurt in martial arts classes because part of the teacher's ethic is to persevere through the difficulty and pain. Don't be afraid to back down and tell your teacher you need a rest or can't do something. Getting hurt will only set you back, perhaps make you quit.

Once your body is in shape for the classes, then you will be much better able to stick with the difficulties, face your weaknesses, and the other things martial arts demand.

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Annapolis, Md.: My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed your review of Sean O'Malley's Cardio Coach workout earlier this week. Have you worked out to either of his first two volumes? If so, how do they compare with Vol. 3? How do they compare with other workout programs you've tried?

In all honesty, we must admit to being biased, since we're Sean's parents. We thought you captured Sean's "essence" very accurately.

Chuck & Nancy

John Briley: Hi Sean's Parents! Good guy, that son of yours.

I did not work out to Vol. 2 but I did listen to it, with feet up at my desk, and it sounds like it would be ideal for intermediate exercisers - similar pattern to Vol. 3 (warm up, intervals, etc.) just not as challenging regarding the time spent in each elevated heart rate zone.

Glad you liked the column. To have someone's parents say I captured his essence very well in print in high praise indeed!

Thanks again.

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Washington D.C.: I suffered a knee injury in September and still having trouble with bending it. Are there any exercises I can do to strengthen it and lose weight at the same time. I tore my ACL and MCL.

Craig Stoltz: Sorry, Washington, this is precisely the sort of thing that's beyond my and Sr. Briley's pay grade. Ask your knee doc for a referral to a rehab specialist. You need to protect yourself from repeated injury. . .

. . .good luck, and please be careful.

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Washington, D.C.: My workout routine usually consists of running 2-3 miles. Recently I've been getting awful charley horses in the middle of the night and I'm pretty sure I have chin splints as well. It seems like running is tearing apart my legs - they're always sore. I enjoy running as a part of my cardio workout, so how can I make sure I'm protecting my legs while running?

Craig Stoltz: Washington, it's time to switch your workouts. Try power walking, or using an elliptical, or taking a group exercise class. . .I know, these may turn you off. But when you start to get multiple running injuries, your body is telling you "quit it." It's time to listen.

After a period of doing other stuff, you may be able to return to running. Neither shin splints nor charley horses need medical intervention unless they start to hamper your daily life.

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Long-run update: I run 4-5 miles three other days of the week. My old route was quite hilly, and I did 4 miles, but I recently found a flatter 5 mile run in the hopes of not adding any more glute muscles. I have no dietary problems. I AM trying to increase my speed on the long runs, in order to prepare for a 10-mile race this spring. Normally, when I know I'll have a long run, I will have my usual Special K plus 1 or 2 scrambled eggs in the morning. More than that is really too much food for me. I think that answers the questions.

John Briley: Thanks L.R.U. - You have me stumped. Maybe try cutting the eggs. You should enough calories stored from the prior day to go on just the cereal. But do check with a dietician - call around to the exercise physiology departments of local universities to start - because I'm probably missing something here. Good luck.

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Ellicott City, Md.: If you're going to work out first thing in the morning, is it better to eat before exercising or should you wait until after?

Also, if eating before exercising is the right answer, then are there particular breakfast foods that are better choices for eating before exercise? Are there some that should be avoided?

Craig Stoltz: You want carbs and some sugar right before exercise: whole wheat toast, Smart Balance spread with a bit of jam, and a small glass of juice. Eat a small amount, and try to eat 30-60 minutes before exercising.

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Craig Stoltz: Fit It In Tip #???: Three days a week, walk during lunch hour for 20 minutes. Have snacks before and after your walk, at your desk, instead of lunch. You've just gotten a good start on your weekly dose.

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Washington D.C.: I bought a pilates tape - is it OK to do the same pilates workout every day? Or should I alternate every other day between that and say, the treadmill or stationary bike?
Thanks.

John Briley: We strongly recommend corss-training for a variety of reasons but, depending on the workout, you could do the same one every day as long as you don't feel any soreness and - importantly - it is providing a balanced workout. You don't want to exercise only your front or back, and you don't want to ignore any majore muscle groups. I know Pilates focuses on the abs, but you have very important muscles in your back (upper and lower), quads, chest, etc.

I say mix it up at least occasionally for variety and to keep your body nimble (going through the exact same motions every day isn't good for us, physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually).

On that note, we are out if time and we've got to get back to the rest of our repetitive-motion jobs. Enjoy the snow, enjoy the weekend, enjoy your life!

Joie de Vie!

- Le Crew de Move

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