Baltimore weighs in on `fattest' list

Fitness Q & A

February 11, 2005|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Is it true that Baltimore is one of the "fattest" cities in the country?

According to Men's Fitness magazine's annual study, Baltimore ranks "25th Fattest" nationally this year. A higher-than-national-average number of Baltimoreans (58.1 percent) are overweight, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Not the worst, but certainly not great.

When calculating a city's overall health, the study took into account everything from health care (we earned an A-) to TV watching (B) and access to health clubs (F).

While it isn't scientific, the study is a good indicator of where we can improve. For instance, we are below average in access to health clubs and in getting regular exercise.

The good news? We rank third best in eating our share of fruits and vegetables, and we stand out in ratio of city parks to population. The next step? Getting out there and using them.

I do my running along a busy street because the sidewalks are wide and I don't have to think about turning every few blocks. My one concern is traffic fumes. Should I be worried?

Yes. Regularly inhaling polluted air can lead to cardiovascular disease, among other health problems. When your breathing increases during exercise, it's even riskier. You should run when (at off hours) and where (on side streets) the air is cleaner.

If all else fails, hit the gym. The boredom of a treadmill sure beats a pair of lungs filled with car exhaust. While you may experience no problems breathing in the fumes, better safe than sorry.

Last week, I slipped on a patch of ice while jogging. My bumps and bruises have faded, but I still have pain in my right wrist, which I used to break my fall. Any advice on how to get the sprain to heal faster?

Ice, rest and anti-inflammatory drugs are the basic recipe for treating a sprain, but what you have may be more serious.

According to the February 2005 issue of Consumer Reports on Health, injuries like yours are often mistaken for strains or sprains but are in fact a fracture of the scaphoid bone. If your pain is in the area of your wrist below the thumb, this may be the case. Particularly since the pain has not subsided, it's important that you see a doctor and have the area X-rayed. If this is a break and isn't set, you risk the bone not healing properly.

Do you have a fitness question? You can submit questions via e-mail to, or online at, or in writing to The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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