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Fat Burning Workout Q&A, from Ask The Expert

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ask the Expert

Q Do lower-intensity "fat burning" workouts really burn more fat?

A The information on cardio machines can be deceiving. The "fat burning zone" is a myth that is based on a fact, but taken out of context.

It's true that higher intensity exercise uses more glucose and glycogen (the form of energy your body gets from foods) in proportion to fat, but remember that "high intensity" in this context means exercise that you can only maintain for a couple of minutes before becoming exhausted (i.e. anaerobic exercise). It’s also true that low intensity exercise uses more fat as fuel; moderate intensity exercise that you can maintain for 20 minutes or more is aerobic exercise, and will burn both fat and glucose.

You're better off exercising in the aerobic zone as much as you can, because exercising at higher intensities burns more total calories. The "fat burning zone" business is very misleading. You will burn a larger percentage of fat in relation to glucose when you are working at a lower intensity, but you will also burn fewer total calories and less total fat.

Bottom line: The relative percentage of fat burned has nothing to do with weight loss—it's the total amount calories burned that counts. So just ignore the machine and continue to exercise aerobically. As a bonus, aerobic exercise also strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure, and improves cholesterol levels.

Written by: Dean Anderson, Certified Personal Trainer www.sparkpeople.com/community/ask_th



Sunday, April 12, 2009

I got the following information from www.bigkneepain.com/knee-exercises.h

Knee Exercises (Many of these exercises can be found right here at SP, this just singles out those that are most helpful for bad knees.)

*NOTE: Only do one exercise per muscle group on the same day. There are several exercises to choose from for some muscles.
Strengthening Knee Exercises

Warming up with 5 minutes of low-impact aerobics, such as walking or riding a stationary exercise bike, increases blood supply to the muscles to help prevent injury and stiffness.
Quadriceps Strengthening

Quad Strengthening Contractions:
Sit in chair. Extend legs, heels to floor. Keep knees straight (or as straight as possible if you have arthritis.) Tighten thigh muscles. Hold for count of 10. Relax for count of 3. Do 10 repetitions. You can do this several times throughout the day. You can build up to 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions at a time.

Quad Strengthening Leg lifts:
Lie flat on back. Bend left knee at 90-degree angle, keeping foot flat on floor. Keeping the right leg straight, slowly lift it to the height of the left knee. Hold for a count of 3. Repeat 10 times. Switch sides. Work up to 10 sets of 10 over several weeks.

Safety Tip:
Leg lifts: Lifting both legs at the same time causes excessive stress on your lower back so
only lift one leg at a time; the opposite leg should be kept slightly bent with foot on floor.

Quad Strengthening Short-Arc Leg Extensions:
Sit or lie on floor. Place a rolled up towel under your thigh for support. Keep you leg straight and raise your foot about six inches off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Slowly lower your foot, bending your knee. Do 10 repetitions. Switch sides.

Quad Strengthening Knee Dips:
Stand with knees slightly flexed. Point your toes straight ahead.
Make sure your kneecaps are also pointed straight ahead.
Lift one leg up and balance on the other leg. Slowly lower yourself up and down ONLY a few inches. Keep the knee of the leg you are balancing on slightly flexed. Your knees must remain pointing straight forward. Do not let them turn inward. Stand straight, do not lean you body to one side. Do 10 dips. Switch sides.
If you feel pain in your knees, start with fewer dips.

Quad Strengthening Partial Squats:
Double leg partial squat: Stand. Keep Back Upright. Knees pointing straight ahead - inline with feet and hips. Slowly lower yourself. Don't bend your knees beyond a 90-degree angle, if 90 degrees is too difficult bend even less.

Safety Tip: Make sure your knees do not extend beyond your toes when doing partial squats. Keeping your weight behind your knees reduces the pressure on the knee joint during the squat. Bending the knees beyond 90 degrees (a right angle) places excessive strain on the knee.
Hamstring Strengthening

Hamstring Strengthening Contractions:
Sit in chair, heels on floor. Don't move heels but pull back on them. You will feel tension in you hamstrings. Hold for count of 10. Relax for count of 3. Do 10 repetitions.

Hamstring Strengthening Curls:
Lie on stomach. Place left foot onto the back of the right heel. Slowly pull your right heel toward your buttocks - resisting with the left leg. This contracts the hamstrings. Hold for a count of 10. (Keep pressing your left foot and right heel against each other) Hold for a count of ten and relax for count of 3. Do 10 repetitions.

Walking backwards helps to develop the hamstrings. When walking backwards, your weight is distributed more evenly, resulting in less strain on your knees.

Other Strengthening Exercises for Knee Stability

Hip Adductors (Inner Thigh) / groin muscle and inner quad muscle (VMO) Strengthening:
Sit in chair, put fist between knees, squeeze together knees. Hold for count of 10. Relax for count of 3. Do 10 repetitions.

Lie on floor on your right side, shoulder and hips aligned. Use your right hand to prop up your head. Place the left hand on floor in front of you to help balance yourself. Bend left leg and bring it to the floor in front of you. Slowly raise your right leg about 10 inches off the floor then, hold for a second, then slowly lower leg to ground. Lift 10 times on each side.

Hip Abductors (Outer Thigh) strengthening:
Lie on floor on your right side, shoulder and hips aligned.
Bend right leg (leg on floor) to 90 degrees.
Slowly raise you left leg about 18 inches, hold for a second, then slowly lower leg.
Do 10 repetitions. Repeat on other side.

Glutes Strengthening Backward leg swing:
Hold onto back of chair for support. Swing leg back at a diagonal until you feel your buttocks tighten. Tense muscles as much as you can and swing leg back a couple more inches. Return leg to floor. Repeat 10 times.
Switch sides.Do 10 repetitions. Repeat on other side.

Balancing Knee Exercises
(helps in knee stability)

Hold onto back of chair or counter top for support. Stand on one leg for one minute. Switch sides.

As your balance improves, use one hand only for support. Next use one finger only for support, then progress to letting go, but keeping your hands within a couple of inches above chair in case you lose your balance. Do not lean your trunk to one side.

To increase difficulty, shift weight onto the ball of the foot.

Stretching Knee Exercises

No bouncing, slow & controlled fashion, 5-10 minutes aerobics warm up first (e.g. walking, stationary bike) Muscles warmed up are more responsive to stretches and less likely to tear.
Calf Muscles Stretch:
Step back with left, forward with right, lean forward with hips. Do not roll foot out to side. Keep heel flat, foot forward. Bend knees for alternate stretch. Hold 30 - 60 seconds.

Quad Muscle Stretch:
Bring heel to hip with hand. Keep knees together. Do not arch back. Do not leg go to side.
Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Hamstring Stretch:
Standing position
Keep one leg on ground; put one foot on chair with leg straight. Bend forward at the hip. Do not attempt to touch your toes as this will stretch your back, and the goal of this exercise is to isolate your hamstring muscles in the leg that is being supported by the chair.

Sitting in chair hamstring: Straighten one leg, keeping heel on floor. Lean forward at hips, keeping back straight. Don't try to touch your toes. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Iliotibial Band Stretch:

Standing position:
Stand up. Cross right leg behind left leg moving crossing knee beyond the midline of the body. Lean from the hips to the left, the stretch being felt on your right hip, side of the leg and knee. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Sitting position: Sit in chair: Bring right foot to outside of left leg, bringing knee towards opposite shoulder so that the knee crosses the midline of the body. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Hip Adductors (Inner Thigh) Stretch:
Standing: Step off to the side with the right leg. Then lean away from the leg (bending your left knee)

Sitting position: Sit on floor, spread legs into a v position. Slowly lean forward from your hips, keeping your back straight, until you feel the stretch. Do not bounce. Then lean towards the right, foot then left foot. Hold each position for 30 seconds.

Hip Abductors (Outer Thigh) Stretch:
Sit on the floor,legs extended in front of you.
Bend right leg and place right foot on floor on outside the left knee.
Twist upper body to right and use left elbow to gently push against outside of right nee until you feel a gentle stretch in the right hips, buttocks, and lower back.
Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Hip flexors (front of hips) Stretch:
Tightness in these muscles can affect the alignment of the knee bones.
Standing Exercise: Step forward with the right leg, bending right knee. Keep back upright. This stretches the front of the hip on the left side. Keep left knee slightly bent also.
Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

Gluteal Stretch (back of hips / buttocks):
Stand in front of chair, about two feet away from chair. Place left foot on chair, leg bent. Bring your chest towards your knee, keeping back straight. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.

*Of all the above knee exercises, the quadriceps strengthening contraction is probably the easiest, safest and most important exercise you can do to prevent knee pain and injury. Those who have trouble fitting in exercises into their schedule can always do this exercise while watching television.

Knee-Safe Aerobics. Low-impact exercises with minimal risk to the knee joint.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DAUSTINFAN 8/20/2009 1:16PM

    Most of those exercises are the same that I was given at physical therapy. So most anyone should try these before spending money on a therapist.

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JACKIE032809 8/4/2009 1:50PM

    Thanks so much for posting this info!

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HEMPSTEADONE 7/26/2009 10:17PM

  I have been looking for exercises that you can do with really bad knees (which mine are).

Glad I found your blog---good luck -- I am just starting--ugh !! Thanks, hempsteadone

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GRANDMA_NANNY 4/13/2009 12:31AM

    Thanks! I need these, as my knees are a mess and need some strengthening.

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PORTION CONTROL: tips for portion sizes

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Several well-controlled, laboratory-based studies have shown that serving larger portions leads to eating more food. Even when eating more, people don't report being more satisfied. Most people underestimate the amount of food they eat -- and overestimate the amount of exercise they do. This is a recipe for disaster.

Knowing what a proper portion looks like doesn't have to be difficult -- you don't need a food scale (although it wouldn't hurt). To give you visual comparisons for suitable serving sizes, here are some food cues to properly pick your portions.

Visual examples of different food portions:

--1 medium fruit -- tennis ball or tight fist
--1/2 cup of fruit, veggie, cooked cereal, rice or pasta -- cupcake or tight fist
--1 cup of raw salad -- the amount you can hold in two hands cupped together.
--1 medium baked potato -- computer mouse
--1 cup of cold cereal -- large handful or tight fist
--1-ounce bagel -- a yo-yo
--3 ounces of meat, poultry or fish -- palm of a woman's hand or deck of cards
--1 ounce of cheese -- 4 dice or the top half of your thumb
--3 1/2 ounces of tofu -- 4 ice cubes
--1 ounce of meat, fish, chicken or poultry -- 1 egg
--1 teaspoon -- the tip of a medium-framed woman's thumb (also, 3 teaspoons is equal to 1 Tablespoon)

Note: The following items expand after cooking.

--1 ounce of pasta will cook up to about 2 ounces, which is equivalent to 1/4 cup. Pasta doubles in volume.
--2 tablespoons of rice cook up to about 6 tablespoons, or about 1/3 cup. Rice triples in volume.


OK, so I think I have it figured out now...

Friday, April 10, 2009

I just need to stop worrying so much about doing it "right", and listen to what my body's telling me instead. Some days I'm energetic, and on give it my all on those days. On other days I just feel worn out...maybe that's because I AM worn out! So deciding that it's just "not right" to give in to being tired isn't going to get me anywhere at all, except maybe totally exhausted. Still other days, which might fall in between the "energetic" and the "worn out" days, I feel ok, but only do "just enough", rather than giving it my all. And that's just the way it is.

Yesterday I was tired, but went hiking anyway. I assumed my energy level would pick up as I went. It didn't...yet I still got over 10,000 steps on my pedometer, and did cardio, strength training, AND stretching as well as the hike. But I was tired the whole time. Today I started out tired, but did a one mile walk (WATP) just to get me started. I also did about 10 min strength training (different muscle groups than I was working on yesterday), and decided to call it quits, even though I had planned on hiking with Chazz. I'm glad I did, because I've been here before, and tomorrow I would have been completely and utterly exhausted.

I was also hungry today, so I went over my calorie range by a little under 100 calories. BUT, I was UNDER the low end of my range on another day, and stayed right at the bottom the rest of the time. I think I can handle just deciding when I feel like I need more food in the same way I think I can handle it when I need more rest.

My fitness tracker is already sending me those messages stating that I'm burning more calories than I had set my goals for...or whatever they say. THIS time, I'm not gonna mess around with trying to get my calorie range set "right". This time, I'm gonna just rely on my own common sense. I can't believe I was making this so hard!! Sheesh!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MERKDJM 4/11/2009 10:31AM

    Hey, slow down! Weight loss is no sprint, it's a marathon. So abruptly and drastically changing your routine is only going to leave you breathless and worn out. A more realistic approach to weight loss is to take it one step at a time, one day at a time. Little by little, it'll make a big difference.
I copied this quote from another blog, to remind myself to be patient. Keep up the good work!


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Fresh Start: So far, so good!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I'm newly motivated with my fresh start. I've already noticed a difference, or new learning experience. I've found that when I'm not pushing myself so hard to keep doing more, I'm also not so hungry all the time!
I just kept grabbing all those extra calories that SP was adding to my nutritional goals, which is, I'm sure, the reason I wasn't able to lose any weight. But I was HUNGRY! Now that I've slowed to a pace I can keep up with, I'm able to stay at the lower end of my (low) calorie range...and have already lost 2 lbs! OK, I realize that my weight can fluctuate a lot, even within a single day, so this might not be a permanent loss...but it's still a loss, and I'll take it!


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