<b>Fitness & Diet Expert</b> Nick Sortal
That said, Debbie Hickey of the Sheinberg Family YMCA in Weston, Florida, suggest some kind of strength training, either with a set of dumbbells at home, or a few body-weight challenges, such as pushups, situps, planks or those resistance bands you can buy at Target and other stores.

"Strength training is the secret weapon to increasing your metabolism," she says. "Following cardiovascular exercise, you experience afterburn and continue to burn calories for a short period following your workout. If you strength train consistently, you add muscle which is metabolically active 365/24/7."

A pound of fat burns about two calories a day. A pound of muscle burns 35 to 50.

"Consistency is key; strive for some moderate activity most days of the week," she says. " But most of all have fun!"

April 10, 2009

Q: I don't really care about how fast I can go on my bicycle, but I want to be able to go day after day. Any advice? -- Bernard Goldstein, Boca Raton, FL

A: Get your body in better shape by doing planks. That builds up your stomach muscles -- your core -- and mirrors the upright position that can keep you pedaling longer without breaking down. For a good plan, hold up upper body on your forearms. Keep your elbows beneath your shoulders and your knees on the floor. Squeeze in your core muscles, and form a straight line from your head to your heels. Hold for 30 seconds, if you can. Do three planks, with 30 seconds rest in between, a couple of times a week.

The other way to work your core is to trigger yourself at certain times of the day: One idea is to straighten up and suck in your gut during each commercial or each traffic light.

April 1, 2009

Q: I've always had weak ankles. Now, whenever I do any of the exercises that require you to stand on one leg on the Wii Fit, it's my ankle that is wobbly and makes me unstable. Are there exercises that strengthen ankles? -- Debbie Eberlin, Boynton Beach, FL

A.: According to Christina Leon, who has a new program called athlekinetix.com. There are four basic movements that the ankle can perform: Plantar Flexion (pointing), Dorsi Flexion (flexing), Inversion (point toes inward) and Eversion (point toes outward) and you need to strengthen the muscles that contribute to all the possible movements to prevent that "wobbly" feeling you are describing.

Do this on Wii Fit or anywhere else:

1. Stand on your toes, with your heel as high as you can lift it and hold there for 10 seconds initially. Repeat on the other foot. Do 15 times. Use a chair or counter for balance and support.

2. This one can be fun: Place one foot out slightly in front of the other and lift the toes of the front foot, keeping the heel on the ground. Now, tap your toes up and down - not too quickly - think "impatiently waiting for someone" toe tapping.

3. Sit comfortably on the floor or on a mat and extend your feet in front of you. Point the toes inward as far as you can and then out. Hold in each position for 10 seconds.

4. Get creative: Use your foot as an air brush and draw pictures or write your name in the air moving only your feet. This will work the ankle in every direction.

March 30, 2009

Q.A weekend story by The Associated Press told of a study that says triathlons produce more per capita deaths than other races. And, while I didn't get any questions about it, I still want to answer. But I don't do that make-up-a-fake-question thing, so I'll ask myself: Nick, what's it about? -- Nick Sortal, Plantation, FL

A: Nick, I'm glad you asked.

Generally these kind of stories make me raise an eyebrow. They remind me of the famous I Love Lucy episode at the batting cage: