Overweight can exercise in a chair

Q and A

Q and A

July 29, 2005|By Gailor Large | By Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I am scheduled for laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery in August. At my current weight, 365, it is difficult to exercise, but I need to start now. Once I have the surgery and can exercise more comfortably, I plan to start a more intense program. Any suggestions on how to begin? My time is extremely limited, and my neighborhood is not conducive to much outside activity.

We posed your question to Kerry Martinez, clinical exercise physiologist at Union Memorial Hospital.

"What I tell our bariatric patients here is to do a home program," says Martinez. "Start out in the house seated in a chair," she suggests. First, dig out an old workout video or flip to a fitness program on ESPN or FitTV. Simply perform some of the exercises on screen, but remain seated, she advises.

The key is to take baby steps. If you do a minute more than you did the day before, that is an achievement. The chair will support you, allowing you to increase your exercise as tolerated and limiting your potential for injury, says Martinez. After you've mastered seated exercise, you can stand behind the chair and use it for support to do leg lifts and strength training.

Taking a short walk is another great way to shed pounds. "If you have no current orthopedic [knee or joint] problems," says Martinez, "then walking around the apartment is a good way to burn calories."

Please catch me up on a few of the cool workout "toys" out there this summer. I need to find a birthday gift for my fitness buff best friend, and I'm out of the loop.

Here is a taste of a few of the trendy fitness gadgets flying off the shelves this summer: Top choices at Dick's Sporting Goods include the Linex X1800 Body Fat Scale and the Stamina Body Dome, a core stability and balance toy. If your friend is a swimmer or pool jogger, you can find the popular AquaJogger Fit Belt at local Sports Authority stores. Another hot new training aid is the Body Bar, a weighted steel and rubber pole used in everything from martial arts to balance exercises.

Lindsay Stallings, sales associate at Princeton Sports in Baltimore, says that a few of the store's hot sellers this summer are the CamelBak (a hydration pack with a sip tube), heart-rate monitors and Under Armour, a clothing brand that she says "makes everything under the sun in terms of workout wear."

I want to get fit, but exercising bores me. I can't make myself stay on the treadmill for more than 5 minutes. I've tried music, but I hate holding a CD player or even having my iPod strapped to my arm. Any suggestions?

Feeling like a hamster on a wheel? The treadmill has that effect at times. While some enjoy exercising more than others, even fitness fanatics have their weak moments. The bottom line is, you have three choices:

1. Find a sport or exercise that you love. It could be kayaking or touch football. Maybe it's hiking. Whatever it is, hunt until you find it, then do it until you're blue in the face.

2. Do everything humanly possible to make the treadmill fun. A trainer or workout buddy on the machine next to you may do the trick.

3. Stop exercising and later regret it.

I recommend sticking with the first two choices.

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

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