Don't let exercise fall into a routine

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

September 12, 2004|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

When weight-lifting, I have a specific routine. Is it true that after your body gets used to a certain workout, it becomes less effective? If so, how often should I mix it up?

"You should probably change your routine every 6 to 8 weeks," says Ranee Appleby, a personal trainer and general manager at Lynne Brick's Women's Health and Fitness in Belvedere Square.

Whatever your exercise of choice, if you keep the same routine, your progress will eventually stall. To increase strength, speed or stamina (or ideally, all three), keep your body guessing.

"You can fight the plateau by triggering muscle fibers in different ways," says Appleby. The three variables you should play around with are frequency, intensity and time. So break out of that comfort zone. You will see results.

Do you know of any cookbooks that specialize in low-carb recipes? I want to update my recipes to include less bread, pasta, rice and potatoes.

For those who want to adopt a low-carb lifestyle but cringe at the mention of carb-free bread (isn't that like fat-free butter?), here are a few cookbooks to get you started:

* The Low-Carb Comfort Food Cookbook, by Michael R. Eades.

* 15-Minute Low-Carb Recipes, by Dana Carpender.

* Secrets of Good-Carb Low-Carb Living, by Sandra Woodruff.

* 5 Square Low-Carb Meals, by Monica Lynn.

One suggestion you'll see again and again in these cookbooks: replace rice and potato dishes with extra sides of fresh vegetables.

Keeping the weight off on a low-carb diet? Well, that's another story.

I've heard you are supposed to walk at least 10,000 steps each day. How do you suggest I add more steps? How far is 10,000 steps?

The widely endorsed 10,000-step recommendation is roughly equivalent to five miles. Here are six simple solutions for adding a few steps to your life.

* Leave the car at home when you go to the supermarket, post office or bank.

* Volunteer for the SPCA's dog-walking program.

* Take the stairs at work.

* Meet a friend for a walk instead of coffee.

* Park in the spot farthest from the door.

* Make a post-dinner stroll part of your evening routine.

Walk more and you may notice a handful of benefits, including more toned legs and a boost in mood and energy. For more information, check out www.presidents challenge.org.

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@baltsun.com.

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