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Exercise is Medicine – Starting the Year in Good Health

November 28, 2012 11:00 AM with Primary Care Sports Medicine physician at NorthShore

With the holidays around the corner, many of us are already beginning to think about our New Year’s Resolutions. Will yours involve starting an exercise routine or setting a weight loss goal? Join the Primary Care Sports Medicine physician at NorthShore, for a live chat about the importance of exercise. She’ll answer your questions about how to get started, how to maintain a routine, and how to see results. Your early questions and participation are appreciated.

  Moderator - 10:57 AM:
Welcome! Today’s chat: Exercise is Medicine – Starting the Year Off in Good Health will begin shortly. Please start submitting your questions and Carrie Jaworski, MD, Primary Care Sports Medicine physician will begin answering them as soon as we get started. We will do our best to answer all of your questions, but because this is such a popular chat, the physician may not be able to answer all of your questions in the time allowed. Your understanding is greatly appreciated.

Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore) - 11:02 AM:
Hello, I am Dr. Carrie Jaworski. I am the Director of Primary Care Sports Medicine here at NorthShore University HealthSystem. I feel very strongly that exercise is often the best medicine and enjoy helping patients to include fitness in their lives.

  Elizabeth Mineh (Vernon Hills, IL) - 11:03 AM:
Will you address exercising with limitations? I have osteoarthritis in my knee, low back and cervical spine. I weigh 288lbs and eat right, but don't exercise because of the aches and pains. I look forward to finding weight loss exercises I can do.
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Great question, Elizabeth. I always try to get my patients with limitations doing something that they enjoy and that is accessible. People with osteoarthritis do well in aquatic exercise programs because gravity is eliminated. Often times, doing walking in a pool is a way to get the joints moving without pain.

  Charlene (Libertyville, IL) - 11:06 AM:
I want to lose weight so badly but every time I take off say 2 or 3 pounds, I feel "light" and then crave something and I fail on keeping my diet going. Every time I feel some kind of rejection in my life, I seem to head to the fridge and really binge, and then I'm mad at myself. I need help, what can I do?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
People cope in different ways. Certainly food can be one of those ways. I would encourage you to add exercise in place of eating. A brisk walk or joining an exercise group is a good way to relieve stress.

  Anonymous - 11:10 AM:
How often should you exercise?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
The recommendation is for adults to get 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. Moderate means something at the level of a brisk walk. If you exercise more intensely, 75 minutes per week is the goal. Ideally, you should divide the exercise up so that you are doing something most days of the week.

  Mary (Evanston, IL) - 11:12 AM:
I’d like to lose 7-10 pounds before the holidays. What exercises are best and will help me burn the most calories?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
It is recommended to only lose 1-2 pounds per week, so 7-10 might be a little too much for our timeframe. Weight loss is all about energy in vs energy out. Meaning, you need to burn more calories than you consume. High calorie burning exercise includes things that are cardiovascular (aerobic) in nature. Biking, running, swimming or aerobic type classes are good examples. Doing something you enjoy will help keep you on track.

  Robert (Wilmette, IL) - 11:16 AM:
How many days are recommended to rest in a more rigorous training schedule? I’ve heard from some that you shouldn’t take a day off, but I’ve also heard it’s good to take a day or two off a week to let your body recuperate.
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Depending on the type of training, a day of rest is usually a good idea. If you are doing the same type of exercise every day, building in a recovery day is essential. If you alternate types of exercise, and you don't feel fatigued at the end of the week, you may be ok. Use caution if you are feeling low on energy instead of feeling energized by your exercise. This can be a sign of overtraining.

  Lisa (Lake Bluff, IL) - 11:20 AM:
How much will my diet influence my sports performance? Are there particular foods I should try to avoid?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Diet can certainly play a role. Foods high in fat can be difficult to digest. Some sugars can lead to gastrointestinal upset and diarhhea. The best approach is to stick with foods you are familiar with for your meals prior to training and/or events. Foods high in omega three fatty acids are helpful with recovery. My "go to" recovery drink is chocolate milk- based on it being a great combination of protein and carbs.

  Abigail (Lake Forest, IL) - 11:27 AM:
I’ve been very regularly going to the gym since early last year. I have not seen any results. What am I doing wrong?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
That is difficult to say. Perhaps enlisting the help of an exercise specialist at your gym to refresh your workout would be a good start. Sometimes if you do the same routine for too long, your body doesn't get as good of a response. Cross training between aerobic exercise and weight training is a great way to vary your program.

  Daniel (Deerfield, IL) - 11:30 AM:
I was very active in sports when I was younger, and incurred a handful of injuries (mostly to my ham strings and back). I have been hesitant to get back into a more robust training routine in fear that some of these pains will return. Are there particular stretches I should consider? How can I start slow and work my way back into better physical shape?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
The best approach is to start slow like you mentioned. Too often, people try to jump into an intense program and then injure themselves. Good overall stretches for the large muscle groups should be done after you have warmed up, never before. I suggest that my patients walk or cycle for 10-15 minutes then stretch. Hamstring stretches are a good stretch to start with- either seated with one leg extended or standing with your leg on a low chair if you are able. Hold your stretch, don't bounce. If anything hurts, seeing your physician for a physical therapy referral might be in order.

  Tina (Winnetka, IL) - 11:36 AM:
What should my first step be for being active?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Find something you enjoy doing and then enlist the help of a friend to join you while exercising. This is a sure way to stay on track!

  Nancy (Lake Forest, IL) - 11:37 AM:
What can I do to stay motivated to workout? I am pretty good about going to the gym consistently, but I wish there was a way for me to make it more fun.
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Mix it up, join a group or try a new class. Exercising with others is often a good option.

  Sarah (Mount Prospect, IL) - 11:39 AM:
What are the health benefits of being consistently active?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
The list is really long!! Exercise has been proven to improve and/or prevent cardivascular disease, cancer and diabetes to name a few. It also helps with stress, sleep and self esteem. People who exercise tend to have less depression and enxiety and just feel better overall.

  Sandy (Evanston, IL) - 11:41 AM:
I have a hard time making time for exercising every day. Does walking my dog everyday for at least 30 minutes count as exercise?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Walking your dog can be exercise depending on your intensity/speed while walking. If you are getting your heart rate up, then I would count it.

  Karen (Skokie, IL) - 11:43 AM:
Is it a good idea to switch up an exercise routine? I like to be able to try new activities, but wonder if it’d be best to stick with one or two.
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Variety is always beneficial. The body responds well to changes and often you will see better results. Cross training also helps to prevent overuse injuries.

  Kevin (Glenview, IL) - 11:44 AM:
After running I often have pain in my knee (mostly behind my knee). What are some good exercises and stretches I can do relieve this pain?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
I would advise you to have your physician evaluate your knee if you have pain after running. For now, ice after workouts and stretch your hamstrings to alleviate some of the irritation.

  Donna (Arlington Heights, IL) - 11:46 AM:
How can I motivate my kids to be more active? They aren’t particularly interested in participating in sports teams, but I would still like for them to get consistent exercise.
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Make it a family event/routine. Kids need 60 minutes of activity a day so we have our work cut out for us. Start by limiting video games, remotes and all things electronic. Instead, go for walks after dinner, play a game of tennis, or something else that you all enjoy. Role modeling healthy habits for our kids is one of the best things we can do as parents.

  Becky (Gurnee, IL) - 11:50 AM:
I’ve heard it’s best not to exercise in extreme heat and cold. Is this true?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
It is more difficult to exercise in extreme weather. Really hot and humid conditions can lead to dehydration and loss of electrolytes. Cold weather can results in hypothermia/frostbite. If you can't avoid it, make sure you are dressed appropriately for the weather and limit your exposure.

Moderator (Moderator) - 11:50 AM:
Thank you everyone for your great participation. The chat will be ending in approximately 10 minutes. Please submit your final questions.

  Joanna (Evanston, IL) - 11:54 AM:
Are there particular exercises that I should do every day?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Most people neglect stretching exercises and then have issues with low back pain or hamstring tightness. If that sounds like you, I would add some basic stretches to my daily routine. Other than that, a well rounded approach to exercise and doing something you enjoy is the best approach.

  Barbara (Skokie, IL) - 11:57 AM:
How many times a week should I exercise to lose weight? How long should I plan to exercise each time?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
There is no set number as it is person dependent. The general rule is to burn more calories than you consume. 30 miutes a day, most days of the week is a good place to start and then increase the intensity and/or time as you become more fit.

  Carol (Glenview, IL) - 11:58 AM:
As a retired person, are there particular exercises and routines that would be best for me?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Do something you enjoy! That is the best approach.

  Ed (Libertyville, IL) - 11:59 AM:
What is the best way to avoid injuries? Are certain sports “safer” than others?
Dr. Carrie Jaworski (NorthShore)
Contact sports come with some danger, so proper training and equipment are essential. Otherwise, a well-rounded approach is to combine cardiovascular exercise, resistance training and stretching.

Moderator (Moderator) - 12:01 PM:
Thank you for participating in our online chat today. An online transcript will be available shortly. In the meantime please read Dr. Jaworksi's blog post, Motivated to Work Out? – Planning Your Exercise Routine.

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.