Can exercise really improve your mental health? Yes, studies have shown that exercise brings about both short- and long-term psychological enhancement and mental well-being. Some of the psychological benefits from physical activity include improvement in self-confidence, relief of tension and feelings of depression, positive changes in mood, increased alertness, clearer thinking, and positive coping strategies. Individuals of all ages and gender can realize these benefits from exercise.

Are those so-called "sports drinks" beneficial during exercise? The composition of these drinks is basically water, electrolytes (minerals capable of carrying an electrical charge), and glucose. Sweat consists mostly of water and electrolytes. In prolonged endurance events, glucose (carbohydrate) replacement may be beneficial. Also, endurance exercise in heat contributes to heavy losses of water and electrolytes which need to be replenished.

Is it O.K. to drink water while exercising? Yes, your body's circulation system must get food and nutrients to the working cells to carry out their chemical reactions. Sweating during exercise depletes your body's water supply, which may lead to dehydration. Do not depend on your thirst to tell you to drink water. Try to drink at least 8 ounces of cool water for every 30 minutes of vigorous exercise. Use that water bottle!

What are free radicals and antioxidants?
Free radicals are unstable molecules produced by chemical reactions utilizing oxygen in the body's cells. A variety of external factors can promote free radical formation including smoking, drinking alcohol, and pollution. Antioxidants (vitamin C, E, and beta carotene—a precursor to vitamin A) protect the cells from free radicals by neutralizing the process of molecular oxidation that leads to their formation.

Does the distribution of body fat have any health consequences? Yes, people who gain fat in the abdominal area have a higher risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke as compared to individuals who gain fat in the hip area. Men tend to gain fat around the waist and women at the hip.

What are the leading causes of death in the United States?
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, they are heart disease, cancers, strokes, injuries, chronic lung diseases, pneumonia, diabetes, suicide, AIDS, and homicide.

Is it O.K. to drink beer after working out? Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it stimulates urine production. Following a workout you want to replenish your body with lost fluids. Consequently, drinking any alcohol beverage before or after exercise is not recommended.

Do you burn more calories when you are hot or cold, or does it even make a difference? Shivering in clold weather requires more energy but not enought to enhance a weight loss program.

What are the limiting factors of flexibility? With the muscles relaxed, and reflex mechanisms minimally involved, researchers have found the relative contributions of soft tissue to joint stiffness to be the following: joint capsule, including ligaments (47%), muscles and their fascial sheaths (41%), tendons (10%), and the skin (2%).

Why does the mirror show your change of shape before the scale? Muscle is denser than fat. A pound of fat bulges out 18% more than a pound of muscle. Since you are adding muscle to your body as you shape up, you will often notice a loss of inches before a loss of weight.

Why do people who exercise have fewer colds and viral infections? It has been observed that exercise may boost the immune system and that physically active people take better care of themselves. It should be noted that regular, strenuous exercise has also been shown to have an opposite effect on the body's immune system. This adds support for an exercise prescription directed towards regular, moderate levels of exercise participation.

Why do you perspire more after you stop working out? During exercise your muscles need most of the blood to get oxygen for the activity. Upon the cessation of exercise, more blood is diverted to the skin to cool the body by means of sweat production. Also, during most modes of exercise you are moving allot, which helps sweat evaporate more efficiently during the activity.

What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance used to help build cell membranes, make some hormones, synthesize vitamin D, and form bile secretions that aid in digestion. Since fat can't mix with water, which is the main ingredient of blood, cholesterol's most important job is to help carry fat through your blood vessels. Before cholesterol can enter the bloodstream it is coated with a protein, referred to as a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are transport vehicles in the circulation plasma that are composed of various lipids such as cholesterol, phospholipids, triglycerides and proteins known as apoproteins. The major classes of lipoproteins are chylomicrons, very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Which is the 'bad' and 'good' cholesterol? The low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) is the primary transport carrier of cholesterol in the circulation. It is referred to as the 'bad' cholesterol because too much cholesterol, from eating foods high in saturated fat, often leads to LDL-C pieces adhering to the inner walls of the blood vessels, narrowing the blood passages. On the other hand, the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol's (HDL-C) primary function is to transport cholesterol from the tissues and blood to the liver for excretion or recycling. It is referred to as the good cholesterol.

Are natural vitamins better for you than manufactured vitamins? No, your body can't distinguish the difference between vitamins manufactured in a laboratory and natural vitamins extracted from food.

Does cold weather give you colds? People exposed to chilling temperatures often feel they are more susceptible to colds. However, it is viruses that give you colds, not the weather. Colds are actually more common in cold weather because people are inside more, and thus more exposed to germs.

What's a good substitute for those high-fat potato chip snacks?
Try pretzels. They are almost fat-free. As a matter of fact, pretzels are one of the fastest growing snack foods in the U.S. However, there is good news for you 'chip' lovers. There are now some new and improved chips that are low in sodium, fat and calories. Read the labels at your supermarket. Look for the chips that are baked, not fried, and avoid chips made in hydrogenated oil. Remember to check the total fat content and serving size, too.

Can you drink too much caffeine? Most people have internal regulators that tell them when to stop drinking caffeine. However, drinking 4-6 cups of coffee a day may result in symptoms referred to as caffeinism: breathlessness, headache, lightheadedness and irregular heartbeat. Too much caffeine may also trigger a panic attack. For college students, caffeine-containing soft drinks have overtaken coffee as the primary source of caffeine. Most experts advice no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine consumption, which is about the same as two to three 5-ounce cups of coffee.

Are these low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets any good? Initially these diets help people lose weight because the body loses water; approximately 3 parts of water to 1 part of carbohydrate. A low carbohydrate diet is fairly unappetizing. However, the body cannot handle the extra amounts of proteins and will end up storing much of it as fat.

How do you avoid repetitive strain injuries? With the wonderful benefits of computer use there are also some physical perils to know. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) results from hand, wrist, arm and neck injuries from a repetitive (fast) work. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of RSI which results from pain in the tendons and nerves across the wrist. To avoid, take frequent breaks during your typing and make sure your computer set-up avoids any neck, back, wrist and eye strain (see Sitting at your Computer Station).

Are vegetarian diets more healthful than diets that include animal foods? Vegetarian diets are higher in fiber and lower in saturated fats and cholesterol. Studies also show that vegetarians suffer less from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. However, many ‘vegetarian foods’ such as chips and candy contain allot of fat and calories, with little nutrient value. Also, vegetarians need to be conscious of deficiencies in iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and zinc.

What are triglycerides? Triglycerides (TG) are fats that circulate in the bloodstream that provide energy for the body. It is uncertain whether high TG levels are associated with coronary heart disease. However, high TG levels are associated with diabetes, kidney diseases, and obesity. Steps to lower TG levels include cutting down on saturated fat, losing weight, exercise, and quitting smoking.

What is this creatine supplement craze?
Creatine is an amino acid found predominantly in the muscles in the form of creatine phosphate, where if facilitates energy production. It also helps to reduce the lactic acid accumulation during intense exercise. Most investigations have shown that creatine supplements boost short-term muscle strength and power. However, it is important to note that the long-term effects of high doses of creatine are unknown.

Are the sunless tanning lotions safe? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration they are safe. The main ingredient in self-tanning products is dihydroxyacetone, which reacts with the top layer of skin to form a light brown tan stain. Remember that these lotions do not give you any sun protection, however.

How successful are all the stop smoking interventions? The interventions range from acupuncture, nicotine gum and patches, hypnotism, anti-depressants and behavior modification approaches. None of the methods has outstanding long-term effects, with each method showing a 20% success rate after one year. Quitting smoking is essential. A person needs the support of the family and friends as well as a sustained effort to find the intervention that works.

What causes your limbs to "fall asleep?" A limb will become numb when you remain seated or lying in a position that compresses a nerve in the limb or stops the blood flow to the nerve. This sometimes happens when you cross your legs or arms for an extended period of time. When you remove the pressure the tingling is the nerve sensitivity returning. Moving the limb helps to speed up the recovery. Men who carry a thick wallet in their back pocket (with tight pants) can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing a similar numbness and pain.

Will exercise reduce a woman’s risk to breast cancer? Exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity. It appears to have a protective effect against breast cancer but more research is needed. However, the best advice for men and women is that they should exercise.

What dietary substances are needed to prevent osteoporosis besides calcium and vitamin D? Two other substances of importance are magnesium and potassium which are both found in fruits, vegetables, milk and whole grains.

Is it true that when you eat out, you usually eat more calories than at home?
Yes, large portion sizes and high-fat entrees burden most of this responsibility. Be aware that when you go out you are less likely to eat nutritious food. Forego eating appetizers as they add to the calories. Perhaps split a desert as opposed to ordering one for yourself. Also, most Americans neglect fruits and vegetables when eating out.

I read a recent study that said high-fiber diets don’t cut colon cancer? Even if the study was well-conducted research, it is still only one study. Decades of research suggest that high-fiber foods are a protection against colon cancer. Remember, stay away from those sugary sweets that are consistently associated with colorectal cancer.

I read allot about the health benefits of soy. Are they true? Soy has been shown to be very health beneficial. For instance, research shows that soy consumption will lower triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol (lousy cholesterol) in people with high blood lipids, while raising the HDL-cholesterol (helpful cholesterol). Note also that heart disease is much lower in Asian countries, where soy is a dietary staple. Soy also has been shown to play a role in lowering breast and uterus cancer.

How does soy improve one’s health? It is felt that the hormone phytoestrogen mimics some of the effects of estrogen, actually blocking off some of the harmful effects associated with estrogen. Also, remember soy foods are low in saturated fat and are cholesterol free. For an internet source on soy-based foods and products go to

Is it true that tea may possibly be a healthful beverage? Yes, black and green tea (sorry, not herbal teas) appears to lessen cholesterol’s damaging affect on your arteries, as well as protect against cancers of the skin and gastrointestinal tract. Make sure you step tea for 3 minutes for the beneficial antioxidants in the leaves to enter in the beverage.

How effective is the supplement creatine? Creatine is made by your body and supplied in foods such as fish and vegetables. It is beneficial when your muscles need short, quick spurts of energy for activities like resistance exercise and sprinting. However, the weight gain experienced by some individuals may actually be more attributable to an uptake of water by the muscle cells.

What are the effects of removing the cool-down from your exercise routine? The purpose of the cool-down is to restore all cells,tissues and organs of the body that have been stressed (or challenged) from the exercise workout. Removing the cool-down removes this process and thus hinders the body’s ability to restore itselt to homeostasis.

I am so rushed to get things done I am contemplating taking some of these liquid meal replacements on a regular basis. Many of these liquid meals provide plenty of calories as well as a number of minerals and vitamins. But typically they do not provide the health-promoting fiber and phytochemicals that are found in fruits and vegetables. So, this is not to discourage their consumption, but make sure you balance the intake with real meals.

What does it mean when a food has the American Heart Association logo on it? The red heart with white check mark means no more than 3 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, and 480 milligrams of sodium. The food must also have at least 10% of the daily value for one or more of these nutrients: protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, or dietary fiber.

As you age, is there anything you can do to slow the decline in mental PROCESSES? The degree of decline varies from person to person, but the age-related changes are due to alterations in the brain’s frontal lobe, right behind the forehead. However, new research suggests that sedentary older people who take up aerobic exercise (such as walking) can slow the loss in mental agility even if they never exercised before in their lives. Researchers believe that the aerobic activity improves mental functioning by increasing the supply of oxygen to the brain.

How can I, as a young man, protect against prostate cancer? Very wise preventative measure. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in American men. Research confirms that diets high in fat, calories, and animal products are strongly associated with this deadly disease. Diets high in grains, cereals, soybeans, nuts and fish, on the other hand, appear to have protective effects.

What’s the final scoop: Butter or Margarine? Good question. While margarine is indeed lower in saturated fat than butter, it’s higher in trans fatty acids, which do contribute to high levels of cholesterol. Recent research does suggest that margarine is healthier. Also, it appears that soft tub margarine may be the best overall choice.

What are the most common types of arthritis? There are actually more than 100 different forms. Osteoarthritis is a wearing and tearing form that affects the fingers and weight-bearing joints (knees, back, hips). Rheumatoid arthritis causes irritating joint stiffness and swelling. Fibromyalgia leads to pain at different points of the body as well as insomnia, morning stiffness and constant fatigue. Gout is caused when uric acid accumulates in the joints, specifically the big toe, knees and wrists. Lupus can damage the kidneys, heart, skin, lungs and joints.

What is the most common nutritional deficiency in the U.S? Iron deficiency. It affects some 8 million women of childbearing age and upwards of 700,000 toddlers.

I only have time right before bed to exercise and am worried that it will impair my evening sleep patterns. Interestingly enough, recent research has shown that vigorous exercise ending 30 minutes before bedtime failed to disrupt sleep.

I have trouble sleeping. Do you have any suggestions to get a better night’s rest? Try to establish a sleeping schedule of going to bed every night and getting up at the same time each morning. Work on the stress levels in your life as this can dramatically affect sleep. You sleep better if the room temperature is slightly cooler than other parts of the house. Try to avoid drinking too many fluids before bedtime so that your bladder isn’t full. Remember, spicy foods for dinner, or as snacks, may cause heartburn or stomach acidity and impair your quality of sleep. Also, avoid alcohol near bedtime. While it may help you fall asleep, when the alcohol wears off your brain actually becomes more alert. Finally, stay away from sleeping pills as they may lead to unwanted side effects and health-related risks.

I use a computer everyday. Are there any exercises that will help prevent and control carpal tunnel syndrome? Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition that develops from repetitive wrist motions such as typing at a computer terminal. This motion may lead to pressure on the median nerve in the wrist, and great pain and discomfort. Do the following exercises throughout the day. Frequently take your wrists through a complete range of motion in both directions. Make a tight fist with both hands, hold for 6 seconds, and repeat 3 to 4 times. Also, circle your wrists in both directions while holding your hands in a fist. Make sure you take short breaks from your typing to do these exercises (and to rest your wrists) in order to safeguard from developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

What causes muscle cramps? New research on exercise-associated muscle cramping suggests the cramp occurs as a result of abnormal nerve activity from the spine, probably related to fatigue. Although not well understood, it is believed that tired muscles going through repeated shortening contractions are more vulnerable to cramping. Avoiding over fatiguing workouts and incorporate regular stretching to best ward off muscle cramps.

What is this new concept of training called periodization? Although not really new, it is now being used regularly with recreational resistance training enthusiasts. Periodization is most widely used in resistance training and involves systematically alternating high loads of training with decreased loading phases in order to improve components of muscular fitness. The system is typically divided into three cycles: 1. The microcycle, which lasts up to seven days 2. The mesocycle, which can be from two weeks to a few months, is subdivided into preparation, competition, peaking and transition phase. 3. The macrocycle is the overall yearly training period.

What is ‘carbo loading’ and how do you do it?
Carbo loading is a method of super saturating your muscles with glycogen. It has been shown to improve endurance performance in events lasting over 90 minutes and is often used in competitive events. About seven days out from the event, begin by eating a diet high (60% to 70%) in high-glycemic carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and potatoes. Make sure you are getting adequate amounts of fat and protein as well. Drink plenty of water and increase your water intake four to eight cups (ABOVE NORMAL) about two days before the event. Avoid dehydrating drinks and foods. As the event comes closer, remember to taper down your training so you body will be appropriately rested for the contest.

What does the term ‘MET’ mean? This term is used to describe energy expenditure of an activity. One MET is equivalent to the energy expenditure of a person at rest. It is expressed in terms of oxygen uptake (i.e., 3.5 ml O2/kg/min). It is very much like a shorthand method of describing energy requirements. For instance, running 6 miles per hour is about 10 METs while walking 3 miles per hour is about 3.3 METs.

What are phytochemicals? They are not vitamins. They are not minerals. Phytochemicals, are plant chemicals that offer great health benefits. The have been shown to project against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other medical conditions. The only way to get phytochemicals is to eat or drink them in fruits, vegetables, juices, nuts and whole grain products.

Is Yo-Yo dieting risky for you? Let’s face it, many well-intentioned diets do fail, which has concerned researchers that the losing and regaining of weight might be harmful to the body. However, new research with high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease, shows that Yo-Yo dieting doesn’t appear to have any physiological damage. However, in terms of emotional wellness, Yo-Yo dieting may be most detrimental.

What is hypoglycemia? Hypoglycemia means low blood sugar. Most individuals may be affected by what is referred to as reactive hypoglycemia, a condition resulting from glucose levels dropping after a meal or when you haven’t eaten for several hours. Symptoms include dizziness, anxiety, shaking, and uneasiness. Eating small, but frequent meals and avoiding concentrated sources of sugar is recommended.

Can you tell me in minutes or days how much smoking reduces life?
According to some research, every cigarette a man smokes reduces his life by 11 minutes. Each carton of cigarettes represents a day and a half of lost life. For every year a man smokes a pack a day, he shortens his life by about two months.

Why don’t diets work? Most diets, especially fad diets, are poorly designed plans that unrealistically restrict caloric intake. People lose weight initially, but these plans are not permanent weight loss eating strategies which people can incorporate into a regular lifestyle. Consequently, INDIVIDUALS usually return to their previous eating habits that encouraged the weight gain in the first place. Eating habits (and exercise) must be changed permanently for diets to be successful.
To some degree, the answer depends on what type of workout you are about to do. The typical 30 minute workout of easy jogging or brisk walking really doesn't have specific macronutrient requirements. However, if your workout is going to be more intense or enduring, here are Some suggestions. To keep “fueling your metabolic engine” you need more complex-carbohydrates a few hours prior to the workout. Your goal is to help maintain your body's blood glucose and carbohydrate (glycogen) stores in the muscles. Also, make sure you drink fluids before the workout. ACSM recommends 14 to 20 ounces of fluid two to three hours before the event and possibly another 7 to 10 ounces right before an endurance event.

How can older people improve their memory?
The University of California, Berkely Wellness Letter cites recent research that shows that aerobic exercise can help sharpen the memory and reduce depression in men and women aged 50 to 77. The aerobic exercise helps to pump the blood more efficiently though the body and brain. Results show that meaningful results can occur in as little as 4 months.

Should I eat before I workout?
To some degree, the answer depends on what type of workout you are about to do. The typical 30 minute workout of easy jogging or brisk walking really doesn't have specific macronutrient requirements. However, if your workout is going to be more intense or enduring, here are Some suggestions. To keep “fueling your metabolic engine” you need more complex-carbohydrates a few hours prior to the workout. Your goal is to help maintain your body's blood glucose and carbohydrate (glycogen) stores in the muscles. Also, make sure you drink fluids before the workout. ACSM recommends 14 to 20 ounces of fluid two to three hours before the event and possibly another 7 to 10 ounces right before an endurance event.