Pack bags for the gym the night before -- and one for each sport

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

December 07, 2003|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I never pack a gym bag because I'm always forgetting something. It seems simpler to just drive home and shower. How do successful locker-room-goers deal with it?

Avid gym-goers will tell you that it's worth buying a separate set of everything for stocking your gym bag. Always pack your bag at night, never in the morning when you're rushed. If you need to shave or blow-dry your hair, allow extra time.

Do you alternate activities, like basketball and yoga? Consider keeping separate, sport-specific gym bags. Your load will be lighter, and you'll be less likely to forget something. Also, make sure you have an extra of each item that is essential to your sport. If you're a swimmer, for instance, keep an extra set of goggles for when a strap breaks.

Is it true that high-protein diets like the Atkins plan put added strain on your kidneys?

According to the October issue of Consumer Reports on Health, scientists have long known that high-protein eating plans stress the kidneys. While a high-protein diet can be an effective way to shed extra pounds, there are many alternatives that don't pose this risk and are easier to maintain (like scaling back on refined carbohydrates or curbing overall calorie intake).

While you have to consume a lot of protein to overload the kidneys, it is important to meet with your doctor or nutritionist before starting a restrictive diet like Atkins.

Sometimes I lose my hearing for a few minutes after lifting weights at the gym. What's going on?

What you're experiencing is most likely caused by improper breathing technique, says Bill Camp, a personal trainer at the Downtown Athletic Club in Baltimore. To avoid this pressure buildup in the inner ear, which can cause temporary hearing loss, exhale deeply when lifting the weight. Inhale when releasing or lowering.

Most importantly, never hold your breath during a strength-training routine. If your temporary hearing loss is recurrent or lasts longer than 5-10 minutes, consult your doctor.

I do most of the housework in our family. I spend an average of 4 to 5 hours each weekend doing chores around the house. I feel wiped out afterward, but people say housework isn't really a workout. Is it?

If your housework involves straightening a cluttered desk or running the dishwasher, you can hardly count that as aerobic activity. On the other hand, if you are sweeping, scrubbing and vacuuming, then you are probably getting a decent workout.

It sounds like you are working hard and are probably burning a fair amount of calories getting the chores done. The important thing to realize is that while you may be burning calories, housework does not take the place of cardiovascular exercise and strength training.

Make sure that you are raising your heart rate on a regular basis, and keeping your muscles strong. Add cardio and weight-lifting workouts to your weekly schedule, and try to give yourself the weekends off.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail

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