<b>Fitness & Diet Expert</b> Nick Sortal
Do not work sore or fatigued muscles. That inflammation brings nutrients and healing to your muscle fibers. Training a single muscle every day will further delay the recovery and rebuilding of the muscle; it may produce some short-term growth but will lead to overtraining and fiber damage in the long run.

March 12, 2009

Q: How do I go about increasing my distance running? I've been stuck on a mile and a half now forever. I started running at the end of January.

A: You need to systematically expose your system to increasing amounts of exercise stress (distance and speed).

One way to do that is to increase the number of days you run; if you run three days a week now, run four, says Alan Miller of Cooper City, who teaches a running technique called ChiRunning.

Try selecting one of those days as a run/walk day and run/walk 2 miles. The walk breaks will allow you to cover the distance without fatiguing. Then slowly take away the length of the walk breaks.

You can also increase your pace on one or two weekly workouts. Say, 100 yards fast, then recover , then do it again, says Miller (email ChiTraining@BellSouth.net).

And finally, be patient. I know it feels like forever -- I'm competitive, too -- but it has been only six weeks. Even runners in the best of shape say they increase their mileage only 10 percent a week.

March 10, 2009

Q: I have been walking now for about 17 days. Four miles, walking briskly. I'm 5 feet, 7, weigh 189 pounds and do no other activity. I eat a balanced diet and have gained two pounds. What's up with that?

A: Walking is not a particularly effective way to lose weight, especially if you take into account the calories that you would be burning anyway during that time.

For example, let's say you go to the mall and walk for an hour at a reasonably brisk pace (3.5 mph). Let's assume you weigh 170 pounds. You would burn 297 calories, according to one fitness expert, but that includes the calories you'd burning anyway - even if you were sitting quietly at home watching TV. That's about 80 calories.

So when you calculate net calories, that's only 217 calories. It takes 3,500 calories to burn one pound of so it would take you over two weeks to lose one pound of fat. The current recommendations for weight loss, based on the science, is at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity such as walking every day.

Other thoughts: 1) the new activity may increase your appetite and you unconsciously eat more and/or 2) you actually, and again unconsciously, do less moving around the rest of the day. But let's put weight loss aside. Think "health" instead. That's where your walking has benefits. Studies have shown daily walking to reduce your risk of a heart attack by some 20 percent. It is also protective of Type 2 diabetes and improves insulin metabolism.

March 4, 2009

Q: I have been dieting and exercising for over a year now. I do 45 minutes on an elliptical trainer at least four times a week, and then I lift weights for a very solid 30 minutes. I lost 20 pounds the first three months, but nothing since then. I am not putting on muscle mass, or losing fat. Nothing is happening. Why?

A:You could be overtraining. "Our bodies need time, good nutrition and sleep to repair the damage done by intense exercise and daily life," notes Tori C. Plyler, a personal trainer with Life Time Athletic in Boca Raton, Florida. Recovery time is an extremely important part of any training program; you may need more rest between your workout days.

If you are overtraining your metabolism will be negatively affected. When your metabolism slows down it can make fat loss and muscle gain nearly impossible. Ideally, a metabolic assessment profile can be used to determine the optimal heart rate for burning fat during exercise and for preventing overtraining.

If you don't feel you are overtraining, changing the method, intensity, or duration of your strength training and cardiovascular workouts could be the jump-start you need. If you are used to the elliptical, try the treadmill, for example.

March 3, 2009