Ben (Moderator) - 11:52 AM:
Welcome to NorthShore University HealthSystem's latest chat: Tips for Your New Years Workout with Dr. Carrie Jaworski, Sports Medicine Program. The chat will not begin for another 10 minutes, but please start submitting any questions you may have now.
Carrie Jaworski - 12:05 PM:
Welcome to today's blog on exercise in the new year. Hoping to offer some helpful suggestions on finding ways to stay motivated as we hit the long, dark days of winter!
Carrie Jaworski, MD
Tonya (Chicago, IL) - 12:06 PM:
I enjoy working out but get unmotivated really fast. What are some tips you can give me to keep my motivation high so I won't get so bored and quit?
Thanks for kicking us off with such a great question! We have all been there. I suggestion keeping a calendar of your physical activity so that you can see all that you have already accomplished. Sometimes life gets in the way and we lose sight of the big picture so being able to look back is a great motivator. You can also set a goal for yourself and once you achieve it, reward yourself with something you've been wanting. The buddy system is another idea since if someone else is depending on you showing up, you are more likely to do so!
Jenna (Chicago) - 12:11 PM:
What kinds of foods should I be eating before and after I workout? Should I make myself eat either before or after? Which is more beneficial?
Another great question! What to eat and when is always a debate. The key things to consider are what type of exercise are you doing and what your stomach can handle. Typically, I would suggest that you eat something 1-2 hours before a workout to allow time for digestion. Stick with foods that you know you tolerate. Make sure that you also are well hydrated because being dehydrated makes everything feel worse. If you are an early morning exerciser, there might not be as much time, so a smoothie or a piece of toast with nut butter will suffice. After a workout, you should aim to get some protein and carbohydrate within an hour. This helps your body repair and build the muscles that you worked and replenish your energy stores.
Ernest Wang (Evanston, IL) - 12:18 PM:
I am starting to incorporate intermittent fasting into my workout plans to improve my fat utilization for endurance cycling. What are some things I should be aware of?
Thanks for the question Ernie. This concept of limiting the number of hours one eats in a day has gained popularity for its potential positive effects on both health and performance. I would caution novice exercisers, and/or anyone with conditions such as diabetes to consult an expert before trying this approach. For those who do intermittent fasting, the biggest thing to consider is ensuring adequate total daily calories for the amount of activity one is doing. Most athletes underestimate caloric needs, so seeing a sports dietitian or coming to us for a Bod Pod to determine your metabolic rate can help to set the parameters. Research also suggests that one still needs to consume calories during longer bouts of high level activity, so the timing of one's fasting should take that into account.
Betty (Evanston, IL) - 12:28 PM:
I have on and off sciatic nerve pain that travels down into my right calf. Usually, I don't have any issues working out, but are there any specific exercises or stretches I should be doing to help alleviate pain? Should I avoid weight lifting?
Thanks for asking. This is a common issue people have to deal with and staying active is a great way to manage sciatica type symptoms. The more you can keep your core muscles (abdominals, hips, gluts) strong, the better it is for your back. In addition, keeping hips and hamstrings flexible through regular stretching can help as well since many of us sit way too much at work. I wouldn't avoid weight lifting as strength training is essential in overall health and becomes more important as we age. I would start with body weight and band exercises that include functional movements such as walking lunges and squats. Once you've mastered the movements, adding some free weights to the movements is a nice challenge. Of course if something is flaring your sciatica symptoms, you should avoid that movement and see your physician.
Dion (Chicago, IL) - 12:37 PM:
If you had to pick just 5 exercises to focus on for a workout routine, what would they be?
So many to pick from Dion! Ok, here is what I would suggest:
1. Some type of cardio for heart health (walk, bike, run, row, swim, dance!) - Do this for 10-15 minutes to start
2. Plank variations for core work
3. Walking lunges or a Bulgarian split squats (lunge with back foot on a weight bench- really pay attention to correct form). Can hold small free weights for additional challenge
4. Bent over row or lat pulldown for upper body challenge as most people lack upper back strength
5. Yoga or pilates based movements at the end for 5-10 minutes to enhance flexibility
There you go!
Mixing it up is the best thing, so switch between free weights, TRX and bands.
John (Glenview, IL) - 12:45 PM:
I've been hitting the gym pretty hard since the new year. Is there such a thing as too much exercise? Obviously, if you got hurt that would be bad. If you aren't injured, can you be working too much?
Good job John!
Like you said, as long as you aren't injured things are probably ok. That being said, you should avoid doing the same workout all the time and also allow for recovery. I always encourage people to build in a recovery day. It is fine to hit the gym hard, but there is also something to be said for allowing the body to recoup. You can still exercise, but switch it up/cross train. For example, distance runners shouldn't run every day. They should build in a day of yoga or pilates to allow the legs to catch a break. You should also look out for increased bouts of illness or injury as that can be a sign of overtraining. There are some athletes who develop an actual exercise addiction, but that is more rare and is accompanied by some rather extreme behaviors. I think you are safe to keep doing what you are doing. Enjoy!
Ava (Skokie, IL) - 12:51 PM:
6 months ago I gave birth to my daughter. Since then, I've been having trouble getting into a workout routine. Do you have any suggestions on ways to ease into working out after having a baby?
Congratulations! Being a new mom can be exhausting but exercise is a great way to combat lots of the things you are feeling. Have you tried exercising with your newborn? While you are holding him/her you can be doing things like squats and arm curls. Lay on a mat with them and do ab work, too! Basically squeeze it in where you can! There are lots of online videos with other suggestions for at home exercise. If you can carve out dedicated time away, joining an exercise class can be a good way to fit it in as you will have paid for the class and will therefore be more likely to go. There are also some mom/baby exercise groups. In the summer, there are stroller clubs where moms walk together, although a little harder now! Moms around the world share in your struggle so ask friends for their ideas, too. Be sure to put yourself first at least for a few hours a week! Your child would want you to!
Ben (Moderator) - 1:00 PM:
Thank you, Dr. Jaworski, for your time and expertise. A complete transcript of the chat will be available on northshore.org shortly.
Carrie Jaworski - 1:01 PM:
Thanks to everyone for some great conversation today! Be sure to let me know if I can ever help with anything exercise related. I truly believe that "Exercise is Medicine" and would be happy to help.