Fitness Q&A

Question:  Is horseback riding considered a weight-bearing exercise? I do hunt seat which involves both a sitting and rising trot as well as cantering. I know I get a lot of aerobic activity.

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  That's an interesting question. Weight bearing exercise generally encompasses any activity where you support all of your own weight while resisting gravity (which means that swimming is not weight bearing). So, I would say that the type of horseback riding you do would fall under this category - - the rising trot more so than the sitting. The sitting trot is gravity resistant for your spine and pelvis whereas the rising trot would be whole body. However, I would suggest that you do strength training in addition to your workout if you aren't doing it already. Maintaining muscle is also a very important factor in bone protection. And as women, we need all the bone protecting we can get... I hope I've helped you.

Question:  I am looking for something to help me lose weight fast or something that will help. Can you please give me an idea. How do you feel about the diet pills like Stacker2 or Herbalife? All of those cost alot of money. Anything that you can tell me will help.

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I don't recommend or support anything that claims to help you "lose weight quick". Most of these products aren't worth the package they're wrapped in. However, being an exercise physiologist, I'm not an authority on either of the products you've mentioned. So, I'll forward your question on to our registered dietician and I'm sure she can give you some of the answers you're looking for. But while I have your attention, let me tell you why I don't support any chemical weight loss plan. Occassionally you may come across a pill or supplement that actually does what it claims to do...but it's only temporary and as soon as you go back to your normal life or stop taking the product, the pounds will come back. Which is not healthy - - physically or mentally. Weight loss has to be a lifestyle change. It must be something that you can maintain your entire life. And let's face it, taking weightloss pills everyday for the rest of your life is no way to live. So for healthy weightloss, it's important to incorporate a lifestyle change that includes a smart diet and plenty of exercise (a diet without exercise will never be as successful as combining the two). Your exercise doesn't have to be something dreadful - - try going for a 20 to 30 minute walk everyday. Or maybe you can go bike riding. Mowing your yard with a push mower is great exercise as well. I hope I've helped you. Expect a response from our dietician soon.

Question:  I hate cardio, I find it boring and somewhat tiresome. I want to shed bodyfat while doing minimal cardiovascular exercise. Is it possible to do this while avoiding cardio? P.S. I consume around 5000 kcals a day, with 40%-60% of this coming from saturated fat, is that good for your heart, Dr. Atkins says so?

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  Your email alarms me on many levels. I guess we should start at the beginning... As much as you dislike cardiovascular exercise, it's important to understand how vital it is to burning body fat and how important it is to your overall health. Cardiovascular exercise strengthens your heart muscle (you only have one...take care of it) and is how you burn the most energy stores. Strength training will burn a few calories, but nothing compared to cardiovascular. So your answer is no. It isn't possible to lose body fat without doing cardio. The trick is to find an activity that doesn't seem to be such a chore. I'm assuming that you've tried walking and running. How about trying biking or swimming? Or stair-stepping? Rollerblading? Anything that keeps your heart rate up for a good 20 minutes without letting it slow back down is considered to be a cardiovascular exercise. No stopping and starting (sprints, basketball, football, etc.). As far as your diet, I strongly suggest consulting a dietician. He/she can help to analyze your current diet and make constructive suggestions. However, I can tell you that 5000 calories is quite a large diet and 40 to 60% of that coming from fat is entirely too much. Remember, you're not a fan of cardiovascular exercise and adding so much fat to your system is certainly causing quite a bit of damage to your health. Concerning the Dr Atkins an exercise physiologist, I don't support it. I can also say with quite a bit of confidence that any certified dietician you consult will give you the same response. I hope I've helped you without being too brutal. Sometimes it's important to be confronted with the truth...regardless of how rough it may seem. However, I do have faith that you will do well. Good luck. Let me know if you need anything.

Question:  I am short (about 5'2") and have always battled being overweight, especially in my legs. What sort of exercises would focus in on my legs the most to help trim them down?

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  Unfortunately, fat can't be spot reduced. You can't choose the area that you want to target and only burn the fat that's there. All fat is burned evenly all over the body and cardiovascular exercise is how you do it. Cardiovascular exercise is any exercise that gets your heart rate up and keeps it there for at least a good 20 minutes. Some examples are such things as walking or riding a bike. Adding some strength training exercises will help to make your muscles more efficient causing you to burn even more calories during your cardio workout. Strength training will also help to give your muscles more definition and tone. I suggest doing some squats or lunges. Add some calf raises and some inner and outer thigh exercises, too. Try starting with 1 set of 15 repetitions on each exercise. About every two weeks, add a couple repetitions. Now remember, you can do your cardiovascular stuff everyday if you want (as long as you get in about 4 times a week). But you never want to strength train the same muscle two days in a row. It's too hard on your muscles. I hope I've helped you. Good luck!

Question:  I have bone spurs in my heels of my foot. Very painful. I'm avoiding going to the doctor because of what might have to be done is there a vitamin that could help this problem. Thank you.

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  I'm sorry that your feet hurt you so much. Bone spurs can be incredibly painful. However, I'm also sorry to say that there is nothing over the counter that you can take to help it. A bone spur is usually due to the excessive calcification of a tubercle which is the attachment site for a tendon onto a bone. Consider the pain you are in now. If it is severe enough, there is not much the doctor will do that could hurt more than what you're hurting now. I strongly suggest summoning enough courage to make it in to see the doctor. You'll be glad you did. Now, I can help you survive the time between now and your appointment. I suggest going to your pharmacy and looking for a doughnut pad. It's a circular pad with a hole in the center. You can wear it in your shoes to give you some relief for now. You'll find them in the aisle with the ace bandages and arch supports. I hope I've helped you. Good luck.

Question:  My 11 year old son is overweight. He wants to start working with weights. Is he too young and is weightlifting good for losing weight especially in his stomach area?

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  11 isn't too young to begin weight training. However, there are guidelines he must abide by in order to keep himself safe. For example, kids your son's age should never use large amounts of weight in their workout. Very low weights and high repetition is the best scenario. In addition, he should never attempt to "max out" a muscle. This will lead to trouble. That being said, it's important to understand that strength training is not how body fat is decreased. Strength training will improve the strength and condition of the muscles underneath the fat, but the overlying fat is what you're trying to get rid of. Cardiovascular activities such as biking, walking, jogging, etc. (for at least 20 minutes at a time at least 3 times a week) are exercises that accomplish this. Strength training does help to make the muscles more efficient so that during exercise even more calories are burnt, but strength training by itself burns very little. I strongly suggest that your son participate in as many different types of cardiovascular activities as you can encourage. Remember that the more options he has, the more likely he is to stick with it. I hope I've helped you. Good luck.

Question:  I'm a martial arts instructor and I've been wanting to add to my credentials by getting a fitness certification (personal trainer and some type of holistic studies). What do I have to do to get certification? I've heard of few organizations like NESTA and NAFC. Are these legitimate organizations to receive certification from?

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  The most credible and sought after certifications in this field are: ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) ACE (American Council of Exercise) All 3 of these institutions require continuing education credits to maintain their certification. The fitness field (as you probably know) is constantly changing. What works today may be declared contraindicative tomorrow. So I wouldn't put much faith in any certification that doesn't require some form of continuing education. As far as the NESTA and the NAFC, I've never heard of either of them...and I always keep my eyes and ears open. After reading your email, I pulled up NESTA and the first thing I saw was "lifetime certification" - - an immediate red flag. I hope I've helped you. Good luck!

Question:  I am out of shape and would like to lose about 40lbs. I have started to do the treadmill. I try to walk two miles a day which takes about 30-35 minutes. I also use free weights 5 lb. but not certain if I am doing enough? Do I need to do the treadmill and weights everyday? Am I walking enough and long enough? Please help? Any advice you could give me to start my weightloss process would be WONDERFUL!

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  Sounds like to me that you've gotten a really good start.  The 30 to 35 minute treadmill workout is great.  However, make sure that your heart rate is up high enough (or not up too high). You'll determine that by using this formula: 220 - age x .75 This final number is called your target heart rate. It's the pulse rate you want to have while you're doing your cardiovascular workout. Take about 3 minutes at the beginning to warm up into that rate and about 5 minutes at the end to come back down out of it. As far as weights go, you've got the right idea. Strength training is like revving your body's engine. Your muscles will become stronger and more efficient so that you burn more calories during your cardiovascular workout (not to mention the nice toning effects you'll see). But you should never strength train a muscle two days in a row. Spread your strength training out to every other day. Everyday is a bit much for your muscle to recover from which will cause injuries in the long run. Don't be discouraged if you don't lose all your 40 lbs in the next couple weeks. Don't expect to see significant results for about 3 to 6 months. I know that sounds like a long time...but that's about how long it takes your body to get back into the swing of things. Be patient (which is the hard part) and keep up the good work.

Question:  I am under weight but I run and exicerize a lot more that I should, would that effect my weight at all?

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  I'm curious about the "more than I should" comment. Let me explain. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 3 or more days of cardiovascular exercise a week and 2 days of strength training a week as a basic guideline. Now this, of course, can be increased depending on the individuals current fitness levels. Performing cardiovascular activities everyday is wonderful...just be sure you're not over doing it. Once a day is fine. I know some people who work out 2 and 3 times a day. I don't recommend that unless it's sport specific training with an athletic trainer. Strength training parameters can get a little tricky. It's important with weight training to be sure to stagger your workout so you don't work the same muscle two days in a row. The muscle must be allowed to recover for a good 24 hours before being worked again. That being said, let me address your question. Exercise does effect your body weight, but I wouldn't worry about weighing too little because of it. However, I feel this may be more of a nutrition issue than an exercise issue. If you're not giving your body enough nutrients (or the right nutrients) to keep up with your workouts and daily routine, your body will start breaking down muscle to get what it needs, which in turn will cause you to lose weight. I would suggest consulting a dietician to analyze your daily caloric intake. He or she could help you determine if your diet is adequate to sustain your active lifestyle. I hope I was able to help. Please feel free to contact me again if need be.

Question:  I was wondering if there was a baby and mom exercise class in Evansville and who I should contact for more information about it.

Answer from Owensboro Medical Health Systems:  To be honest, I'm not sure if there are any mom and baby classes in Evansville (a very popular class is called "Shape Up With Baby"). However, I do know for sure that Tri State Athletic Club offers specific personal training for new moms. You may want to try there. Sorry I don't have more information, but I hope I've helped you some. Good luck.