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Sports & Exercise – Improving Health & Physical Fitness

July 25, 2012 11:59 AM with Dr. Adam Bennett

With The London Games right around the corner, you may be thinking about your own personal fitness and exercise routines. Learn how you can stay active and in the game without injury. Join Adam Bennett, MD, sports medicine physician at NorthShore as he answers your training, nutrition, stretching and injury prevention questions. Your participation and early questions are welcomed.

Angela (Moderator) - 11:48 AM:
Welcome! Today’s chat: Sports & Exercise – Maintaining Health and Physical Fitness will begin shortly. Please start submitting your questions and Adam Bennett, sports medicine physician, will begin answering them as soon as we get started. While you are waiting for the chat to begin, feel free to read our blog post, Maximize Fresh Air Fitness and Reduce Your Odds for Injury. 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.

  Priya Bhatia (Prospect Heights) - 11:58 AM:
I started putting on weight in February 2011 and am wondering how I can start to lose it. 1) Is treadmill/ walk a good option to loose the weight and to maintain it? 2) Is it harmful for the knees? I have observed many times that when I use a treadmill I have pain in my bone below my knees (especially in my left side leg).Is it normal?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
Any physical activity is an important step to losing weight and is important for good health. Treadmill walking is typically not too hard on the knees but if you are having more severe pain or swelling, you might benefit from seeing a physician and getting x-rays to determine why your knees hurt. If weight loss is your main goal, focus on a diet which is low in fat and calories and consider varying how you exercise. Resistance training coupled with biking and swimming will likely be easier on your knees and make weight loss easier. Good Luck!

  Jean (Chicago) - 12:03 PM:
I find it extremely hard to stay motivated. I’ve wanted to participate in a marathon for years, but always decide at the last minute that the training regime is too much for me to commit to. What would you recommend for staying motivated and on track?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
My first recommendation for people wanting to run a marathon is that you run no more than every other day. This allows your muscles to recover and becomes less of a hurdle to overcome than running 5-6 days a week. I would also recommend on occasion trying eliptical or biking on a run day. Other options for motivation include using a personal trainer, join a running club, or simply agreeing to a work out routine with a close friend or spouse.

  Tom Forbes (Evanston, Il) - 12:08 PM:
How does one stay fit when positioned at a computer most of the day?!
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
That is a tough one. Some people have success sitting on an exercise ball and taking "exercise breaks" where they do sit-ups, leg strengthening exercises, side planks, and even push-ups. These breaks can be as short as 30 seconds and you can do as many as your work situation will allow. You may want to consult a personal trainer to come up with a program that would work for you. Just be careful not to disturb your neighbor!

  Robert (Chicago) - 12:13 PM:
What is the best way to avoid injury? What are some of the signs that you have overexerted your muscles and should rest?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
For individuals who are not involved in contact sports, one of the best ways to avoid injury is to make sure that you are properly conditioned. For example, if tennis is your main sport be sure that you are exercising in ways that mimic the movements you do in tennis. Examples include jumping rope, running sprints, and resistance training that involves more explosive movements and core stabilization. Conversely, jogging 5 miles a day would not be an ideal way to train for a tennis, basketball, or soccer league. A lot of my patients have made that mistake and suffered an injury as a result. Muscle cramping can be a sign of overexertion and you should rest and hydrate if you experience this symptom. Another sign of muscle overexertion is if you frequently pull muscles, as muscle strains more commonly occur when your muscles are fatigued. For people who exercise intensely, I suggest working out every other day to allow your muscles to recover.

  Priya Bhatia (Prospect Heights) - 12:25 PM:
Is there a specific nutrition plan to help with weight loss? Also while doing exercise at the gym I often feel very tired and breathless after 1/2 hr. What can I do to increase my stamina?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
Nutrtion plans for weight loss need to be very specific to your personal goals and situation. As such, I would review your diet with a nutritionist or personal trainer who is trained in nutrition/diet. In terms of fatigue at 30 minutes, I would first consult with your physician to make sure your are healthy for exercise. Once that exercise is approved, I suggest interval training to improve stamina. Push yourself pretty hard on the bike or treadmill for 30-60 seconds, and then slow down considerably for 2-3 minutes until you recover fully. Repeat this cycle for 20-30 minutes a couple times a week and you should see your stamina improve in a week or two.

  John (Evanston) - 12:32 PM:
I’ve often heard that before a big race or meet, it’s a good idea to “carb up”. Is this true? What are some other recommended foods to consume before a rigorous exercise routine?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
Proper hydration and electrolyte supplementation during an event is much more important then carb loading the night before. Individuals exercising longer than 30 mins need to supplement fluid, sugar,and nutrient loss while training for an event to optimize muscle function and recovery. During training, your body will get used to some eating and drinking while exercising and perform better on race day. This is especially true in individuals who sweat a lot or in warmer conditions. I recommend small portions of nutrient rich food prior to rigorous exercise. Larger portions or high calorie foods will take longer to pass through the stomach and as a result some people will feel nausea or vomit. Half a banana or energy bar is often enough to give you energy but not make you feel sick.

  Ross (Chicago, IL) - 12:42 PM:
I tore my ACL playing soccer in college. It’s been a few years since then I am feeling much better and am hoping to return to the game. What would you recommend for reducing my risk of future injury?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
I also tore my ACL playing soccer in college so I can speak from experience! Assuming your knee is now stable and you have been through proper rehab, I would suggest a gradual increase in soccer specific exercises such as sprints, agility drills (lateral and front to back movements), and some weight lifting to make sure your leg muscles are properly conditioned. Knee swelling and feeling of instabiliy are symptoms for which you should seek medical care.

  Mary Anne (Skokie) - 12:47 PM:
What do you recommend for staying hydrated when exercising? Is it ok to drink water during exercise?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
When exercising less then 30 mins in cool climates, water is fine. However, when exercising longer then 30 mins or in intense heat, hydration should involve fluids with glucose and electrolytes. Sports drinks are typically adequate. For athletes training intensly multiple days a week in warm climates for 60 mins or longer may have to use salt tablets as well as sports drinks.

Angela (Moderator) - 12:50 PM:
Thank you everyone for your great participation. The chat will be ending in approximately 10 minutes. Please submit your final questions.

  Caroline (Highland Park, IL) - 12:55 PM:
I am currently training for a marathon. My training has been going well, but I am starting to get aches in my feet. Could this be because of my shoes? How frequently should I change them?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
Running shoes should be changed every 6 months or every 350 miles (or so), whichever comes first. In terms of aches in your feet, try adjusting the frequency of running and surface. You may want to try some biking or swimming instead of running once a week as well.

  Joshua (Chicago, IL) - 1:00 PM:
Since the beginning of the year I’ve been very regularly going to the gym. I have not seen any results. What am I doing wrong? What are the best exercises for burning calories & losing weight?
Dr. Adam Bennett (NorthShore)
You likely need to vary the type of activity you are doing. Your body quickly adapts to a routine, so changing the pace, intensity and duration should be helpful. Also, high-intensity interval training coupled with a healthy diet (lean proteins and vegetables)is a great way to "get results". The intervals should be intense 30-45 second periods of exercises followed by recovery (1-3 minutes). This can be sprints, burpees, push-ups, jumping rope, or all of the above. Cross-fit is an example of an exercise program that utilizes these principles.

Angela (Moderator) - 1:07 PM:
Thank you for participating in our online chat today. An online transcript will be available shortly. To learn more about Sports Medicine, visit our website.

This chat has ended.

Thank you very much for your participation.