Exercise is defined as a physical activity that is structured, planned and done at a certain intensity level, frequency, and duration carried out to maintain or improve health and fitness. Physical activity is defined as any movement of the body produced by skeletal muscles and resulting in the expenditure of energy. Physical activity can be doing something fun that involves moving. Exercise is thought of as something people don’t like because it’s good for you. Therefore if you hate exercise, think of physical activity instead.
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Question: Dr. Jimenez, I’ve heard that we should get 30 minutes of exercise a day, but can it be broken up, and does this have the same effect?
Answer: Absolutely. A recent study found that nine weekly 10-minute exercise sessions offer the same health benefits as three weekly 30-minute sessions. This is great for beginners, who may find it easier to stick to short workouts.
Q: What about for burning fat? 30 minutes of exercise at a quick pace or longer sessions at a slower pace?
A: The higher the intensity the individual can sustain without exhausting themselves burns more fat. The faster you walk, swim, cycle, etc., the more calories you burn per minute.
However, with a sedentary lifestyle, you won’t last long at a higher intensity and might hurt yourself, so you need to start slow and gradually work up to a higher pace.
Q: What about doing only one set of a certain exercise, is it as good as doing two or three?
A: Several studies have shown improvements in strength and muscle size for groups of untrained people performing one set per exercise as compared to doing three sets. For people just starting out, or who want to maintain the strength they’ve achieved, one set of each exercise is enough. For athletes and anyone trying to achieve greater strength, 2-3 sets are better.
Q: Do crunches help lose the fat around the stomach?
A: You can’t reduce fat just in certain spots, except through liposuction. Crunches tone the abdominal muscles, but the same layer of fat on top of these muscles will remain unless a healthy diet reducing calories is incorporated and by burning more calories than are consumed. Don’t look for quick fixes. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Q: I started exercising like walking, stationary bike, etc., to improve my health and lose weight, but I have gained weight instead. What’s going on?
A: It depends on the weight we are talking about. Scales are poor indicators of changes in body composition because muscle is more dense than fat. This means that a pound of muscle takes up less space than a pound of fat. Instead of the changes on the scale, look for changes in how clothing fits. Gaining weight is not bad as long as it’s muscle/s that are being built up. Plus it gets the metabolism going. For every pound of muscle added to the body, at least 35 more calories get burned up per day. Three pounds of muscle will burn plenty of calories in a month to lose a pound a fat.
If there was some weight gain, look for anything that changed that could contribute to the extra pounds like quitting smoking, going on hormone replacement therapy, or stress. Remember aerobic exercise is only one of several factors in weight management. Strength training, a healthy diet along with healthy lifestyle habits also contribute to a healthy weight.
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