Bacteria lives on saliva left on used and refilled plastic water bottles

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

August 15, 2004|By Gailor Large | By Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I reuse my water bottles to save money and plastic. How long is too long to keep an old bottle around?

This is one case where refills aren't necessarily good. Your saliva can leave behind protein that bacteria thrive on. Bacteria will breed around the rim of your used plastic water bottle, and inside it, particularly in the heat.

Washing out a bottle with hot, soapy water will extend its life, as will keeping it out of bacteria-friendly environs like a hot car. Still, you shouldn't refill it more than a few times. Just because you can't see something, that doesn't mean it isn't there.

Sometimes people make comments about how much I exercise (1-2 hours every day). I have healthy, hearty eating habits and don't have any body image problems. I just exercise a lot because I like the way it makes me feel and I have the time to spare. Is there anything wrong with this?

Without knowing more, it's hard to say if your habits are healthy or harmful. If you are training for a distance race, for instance, spending a good part of the day in running shoes is normal.

Some questions to ask yourself: Do I feel panicky if I miss a workout? Do I get sick a lot? Does exercise take time away from my family, my social life, my work? Do I deny myself one "off" day each week? Your answers should be "no."

The one red flag is that others are commenting on your exercise habits. Overall, an hour or two on the tennis court or in a yoga studio is one thing. Grinding away on an elliptical trainer or treadmill for the same amount of time may be cause for concern.

The bottom line? If you have to ask the question in the first place, you should be taking a closer look. Make an appointment to see your doctor. He or she will help you tackle a problem if there is one, or give you a clean bill of health and ease your mind.

In your July 11 column you suggested that to get the toning benefits of weight lifting without the big muscles, all you have to do is increase the number of repetitions. This doesn't make sense to me.

Sorry for the confusion. The July 11 answer read: "increase the number of repetitions you are doing to 12-15 (my guess is you are doing 8-10 now)."

It should have explained that along with increasing the reps, you need to decrease the amount of weight you are lifting.

These two components together should help tone your muscles without causing you to bulk up. It's important to note that the weight should be heavy enough that the muscle is still "spent" after the final repetition.

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

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