Monday, February 23, 2015

Choose an Exercise That Suits Your Body Type

Exercise can do wonders to get rid of unwanted pounds and tone up flabby muscles. But it can’t turn a short, stocky person into a tall, willowy reed, or a slightly built person into a brawny bruiser. However, your body type may make you better suited to some activities than to others.

Most people fall into one of three categories: endomorphs, mesomorphs, or ectomorphs, based on their overall build, distribution of body fat, muscle tone, and height. (Some people show characteristics of more than one type.)

Endomorphs may be described as:
  • Chubby, round, or soft looking.
  • Broader at the hips than at the shoulders.
  • Small-boned.
  • Not very muscular.
  • Carrying a higher-than-average amount of body fat.
Endomorphs are poor candidates for jogging or any activity that calls for high impact with the ground. They’re good candidates for low-impact or nonimpact activities like biking, walking, or swimming, which minimize strain on the body frame.

Mesomorphs are usually described as:
  • Big-boned, with a strong, muscular physique.
  • Broad-shouldered, with a narrow waist.
  • Rugged looking.
Mesomorphs are good candidates for walking, and short-distance running (like 5-kilometer races) but not marathons, martial arts, or sports requiring balance, strength, power, and agility (like power lifting, tennis, boardsailing).

Ectomorphs are usually described as:
  • Tall, with a long, slender neck.
  • Having narrow shoulders, chests, and hips.
  • Relatively long limbed.
  • Having small wrists and ankles.
  • Having little body fat.
  • Having difficulty developing powerful muscles.
Ectomorphs are poor candidates for swimming (since they have so little body fat for buoyancy) and sprinting. They’re good candidates for jogging, skipping rope, basketball, tennis and other racquet sports, and cross-country skiing.
Source: HealthyLife® on Fitness (Southfield, Mich.: American Institute for Preventive Medicine, 1987).

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Low-Impact or Nonimpact Aerobics, Part 2

Low-impact aerobics are designed so that:
  • Your feet stay close to the floor, and only one foot leaves the floor at a time.
  • Only moderate jumping is involved.
  • Jerky movements are kept to a minimum.
Nonimpact aerobics are designed so that:
  • No jumping is involved.
  • They rely on large muscles of the thighs (as in knee lifts) rather than muscles in the feet and calves (as in jogging and skipping in place).
  • They require more arm movement than high-intensity aerobics.
Rate Your Aerobics Class
Use this handy ten-point checklist to figure out whether an aerobics class is right for you. (You may have to take a class or two on a trial basis to answer all the questions.)
  1. Is the instructor well-qualified?
  2. Is the floor firm yet resilient? (It should be made of either wood, with an airspace or a spring cushion underneath, or polyvinylchloride/urethane. Avoid mats – they can throw you off balance.)
  3. Is the room air-conditioned?
  4. Is there enough space for each participant to move freely without crowding?
  5. Does the routine include a warm-up and cool-down period?
  6. Does the aerobic portion of the class last at least 20 minutes? (Your heart rate should reach but not exceed your target heart rate.
  7. Are you told how to check your pulse before, during, and after the aerobic portion of the class?
  8. Does the routine allow participants to adjust the pace to their individual ability? (You should be able to step up the pace or ease off if you need to.)
  9. Does the instructor introduce new routines or music from time to time?
  10. Do you feel relaxed or invigorated after class? If you feel sore and exhausted, something’s wrong.
“Yes” answers mean you’ve probably found a class that will suit your needs)

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Low-Impact or Nonimpact Aerobics, Part 1

Fitness activities that involve steady, rhythmic motions of your major muscle groups and burn oxygen for more than a brief spurt are considered aerobics. They force your heart and lungs to work at anywhere from 60 to 85 percent of their capacity. Brisk walking or bicycling, for example, are aerobic. So is aerobic dance – informally choreographed routines that combine calisthenics and dance.

Aerobics dance classes became the rage in the early 1980s, but the shock to bones and tendons caused by repeated jumping and bouncing produced a number of injuries. Now, low-impact and nonimpact aerobics have replaced many higher-intensity aerobics workouts. Both are kinder to your skeleton.

Distance Guide for Exercise Goals
Stair Climbing

Peak or Building
Mt. Everest
29,028 ft.
49,762 stairs
Mt. Rainier
14,410 ft.

Empire State Building
1,250 ft.

Eiffel Tower
984 ft.


Body of Water

English Channel
21 mi.
1,848 laps
Lake Michigan
118 mi.
10,384 laps
Mississippi River
2,348 mi.
206,624 laps
Atlantic Ocean
4,150 mi.
365,200 laps


New York
831 mi.

Boston to Seattle
3,123 mi.

Miami to San Francisco
3,147 mi.

Great Wall of China
3,950 mi.

* One stair equals approximately 7 inches. One lap equals 60 feet; 88 laps equal 1 mile. Check the length of your swimming pool.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.

Monday, February 2, 2015


The liver is probably the most versatile organ you’ve got. It performs many tasks, including:
  • Producing bile (a substance that aids digestion of fats)
  • Producing blood proteins
  • Helping blood clot
  • Metabolizing cholesterol
  • Maintaining normal blood sugar levels
  • Forming and storing glycogen (the body’s short-term energy source)
  • Manufacturing more than 1,000 enzymes necessary for various bodily functions
  • Detoxifying substances such as alcohol and many drugs

The liver is equipped to handle a certain amount of alcohol without much difficulty. But drink too much alcohol, too often, for too long, and the vital tissues in the liver break down. Fatty deposits accumulate and scarring occurs. This sad state of affairs is known as cirrhoss. It’s most commonly found in men over 45, yet the number of women developing cirrhosis is steadily increasing.

To make matters worse, people who drink too much generally have poor nutritional habits. Since alcohol replaces food, essential vitamins and minerals are missing from the diet. So malnutrition aggravates cirrhosis.

While alcohol abuse is the most common cause of cirrhosis, hepatitis, taking drugs, or exposure to certain chemicals can also produce this condition.

Doctors recognize the following as signs of advanced cirrhosis:
  • Enlarged liver
  • Yellowish eyes and skin, and tea-colored urine (indicating jaundice)
  • Bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract
  • Hair loss
  • Swelling in the legs and stomach (indicating fluid accumulation)
  • Tendency to bruise easily
  • Mental disorientation

Cirrhosis can be life threatening, so get medical attention if you suspect your drinking habits may have gotten out of hand or you have any of the above symptoms. And needless to say, you (or anyone you suspect of having cirrhosis) should abstain from alcohol.

Used with permission from A Year of Health Hints by Don R Powell, PHD and the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, copyright 2010.