When it comes to exercise and diet, there are a lot of opinions. From fitness professionals and friends to books and newspaper or magazine articles, there’s advice everywhere. Throw in the Internet, and it’s information overload. So, I thought I would pick a few hot topics and set the record straight, or at least add to the information avalanche.
TOPIC 1: I often get asked, “Is stretching bad for you?” Some professionals believe in a pre-workout stretch, while others think stretching is bad altogether. I fall somewhere in the middle. My training philosophy is a brief warm-up, a small stretching session, then the full exercise program. I always have my clients finish with a full stretch.
Here’s my reasoning: I think it’s important to lengthen the ligaments and muscles to help keep the body loose and limber. But here’s the downside to stretching: a cold-body stretch can cause damage to the soft tissue. By warming up the muscles and ligaments, they become more flexible.
TOPIC 2: Some people say exercising at night is better than in the morning. A good fitness program works whenever you can fit it in. Some people say they always exercise in the morning, and some right before bed. If mornings work for you, great. But if you’re a night owl, so be it. The difference between the two is so debatable and minimal that whenever you can fit exercise into your busy schedule, it’s a positive.
TOPIC 3: Is too much exercise is bad for you? Yes. I know people who are at the gym 20 hours a week. Not only is that crazy, it can be harmful. At some point, the body needs to rest. An hour at the gym for average people, a couple hours for extreme athletes, is enough to get the job done. And everyone, regardless of fitness level, needs a day to rejuvenate.
TOPIC 4: Should you eat before or after a workout? Both. You want to have a small snack an hour or so before your workout to give you energy, but you don’t want to be too full. After your routine, eat a protein-packed mini-meal to fuel your muscles for growth and fitness advancement.
TOPIC 5: My dad used to tell me he didn’t lift weights because it would make him fat. This is false. What makes you fat is excess caloric intake combined with a lack of energy burn. More muscle mass increases your metabolism, which will increase caloric burn.
This week’s easy fit mini recipe isn’t so much a recipe as a snack. Rather than a bowl of ice cream, I dice up fresh strawberries and blueberries, powder on a little brown sugar and a dollop of whipped cream. Fresh whipped cream is actually fairly low in calories, and the nutrition punch in the fruit makes this a healthy alternative to a fattening dessert.