Reading, stationary cycling aren't a good combination

Fitness Q & A

August 19, 2005|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,Special to the Sun

I enjoy taking a book to the gym so I can read on the stationary bike. It helps me stay on the bike for an hour.

My friends say if I can read at the same time I'm working out, then I'm not working hard enough. What are your thoughts?

I agree with your friends. While some might see simultaneous biking and reading as successful multitasking, I say you're shortchanging yourself in both areas.

Your hour workout would be more productive broken down into an intense half-hour biking session followed by 30 minutes of reading.

If you want to get the cardiovascular and muscle benefits of cycling, you need to push yourself. It's hard to believe you can do that while reading.

It may be that you read on the bike because the workout itself doesn't satisfy you. Why not explore a routine where the exercise alone is stimulation enough?

I read your column regularly, and I've noticed that you often address the dangers of trans and saturated fats. While you make good points, I would love to see some mention of the benefits of the good fats.

Please enlighten those readers who might think they need to cut all fat from their diets.

While consuming saturated fats and trans fatty acids can cause "bad" LDL cholesterol to spike and increase your risk of heart problems, you're right that there are good, even necessary, fats. All fat is not created equal.

Unsaturated fat, found in avocados, peanuts, olive and canola oils, helps lower your cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, leafy green vegetables, flax seed and walnuts, may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer and improve your mental health.

So don't skimp on fat. While you shouldn't allow yourself more than 20 percent to 30 percent of your daily calories in fat, your body needs a minimum of 10 fat grams daily. Dip below that, and over time your system will suffer.

The veins on the backs of my hands and in my forearms have been puffing out since I've been lifting weights every other day. It's noticeable and it bothers me.

Why are they like this?

If anything, you should be pleased, not worried, about this change.

When body fat decreases and muscle tissue increases, your veins tend to become more visible.

A vein rests, after all, between the skin and the muscle, so when the layer of fat is no longer there to help mask it, that vein may appear to bulge. There is no reason to be alarmed.

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

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