Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New Year's Resolution: Get Fit

Resolved to exercise and get in shape? Here's how to actually do it.

You needed neither that 2nd serving nor the extra round of drinks. Yet you indulged. Aren't the holidays about good times with loved ones, great food, and merrymaking? Beginning Jan. 1, you will eat healthier and work out. Starting then, you will get fit. This will be your New Year's resolution. Life will be better after December. Sound familiar?

In fact, about a third of New Year's resolvers make weight loss their primary goal, and about 15% aim to begin an exercise program. For the average person, a good fitness program consists of exercises that work out the whole body. A cardio workout improves the function and health of the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Weight-bearing exercises enhance the function and health of the bones, muscles, joints, and connective tissues. To avoid overwhelming yourself, set realistic expectations. Assess where you are now, and then break it into achievable goals.

How does one go about choosing an appropriate fitness program? Different things work for different people. Fortunately, there are more than enough options. Start by making healthy choices!

Exercise does not need to be a formal activity. It does not require a big chunk of time carved out of your day.Some activities can even double as weight-bearing exercise, the other component of an ideal fitness program. This type of exercise involves anything that uses body weight against gravity. Examples include walking, jogging, playing basketball, yoga, martial arts, push-ups, weight training, and free weights.

To get maximum benefits, focus on working out the larger muscle groups. Most of the muscle mass in the body lies in the trunk, thighs, chest, back, and abdomen. Targeting these areas will give you the biggest bang for your buck for your workout time. Start out with 1 set of 8-15 repetitions of 1 exercise 2 days a week. Consulting a dietitian for nutrition advice may help as well. Healthy eating is an essential part of a good fitness program. Start low and then gradually progress. You shouldn't expect to become well-conditioned overnight."

It is possible to begin a fitness program and stick with it. If you do, perhaps you can scratch off that resolution next year and have the satisfaction of knowing you have accomplished something very important.

Dulce Zamora


60 - Approximate number of minutes it would take running on a treadmill at 5.2 MPH to burn off that 44-ounce super big gulp of Coca-Cola Classic.
36 - Percentage by which eating one apple a day lowers your risk of death from stroke.
15 - Number of Carb grams in a tablespoon of honey.
7 - Number of protein grams in one whole egg
114 - Calories in one cup of sweet potatoes, cubed.

Question of the week?

Q: My 14-year-old daughter has experienced interest in joining me at the gym. However, I have heard rumors that weight training isn't healthy for young healthy growing teens. Is it ok to bring her along?

A: You are correct, heavy weight training for young teens are not recommended. Too much stress can be applied to their growth plates (cartilage at the end of long bones where growth occurs), which can lead to injury. We often note a decrease in teens' core strength and flexibility during rapid growth spurts. A calisthenic routine or group cardio class can allow your teen to improve her fitness while she is adjusting to her new height. Once teen's have finished growing and have developed their secondary sexual characteristics, their growth plates are generally closed and a heavy weight-training can be initiated.