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Fuel Your Workout

Engaging in regular workouts doesn’t give you license to eat significantly more food! The best way to balance diet and exercise is to plan your menu in advance. You need fuel in the form of food, just like a car needs gas, to have the energy to press through your workout. During an average, moderate-intensity workout, a woman burns approximately 350 to 400 calories.

After Burn – extra fuel needed?

What about after burn? Doesn’t your metabolism stay elevated for the next 12 to 24+ hours? One research study found that women burned more calories for up to 67 hours following an intense 40-minute cardio workout. That sounds impressive, however, that after burn effect added up to only 50 additional calories expended (in total). One Oreo cookie (only one) has about 50 calories. Thus, the after-burn effect is pretty insignificant when you look at it from that perspective.

Pre-workout fuel

About an hour before you head outside for your run or to the gym, have a light-to-moderate-sized snack, about 150 to 250 calories on average. It should be a carbohydrate-rich snack with a bit of protein. Stear clear of high fat fare or too much protein or fiber as these nutrients delay gastric emptying and digestion, which may cause abdominal cramping. Great workout fuel snacks include a slice of whole-wheat bread with 1 TB of peanut butter, a light yogurt mixed with a 1/4 cup of reduced-fat granola or 10-oz of low-fat chocolate milk.

Post-workout fuel

Fuel properly post-workout to replace depleted glycogen stores with a meal that is composed of simple and complex carbohydrates. Healthy simple carbohydrates include fruits and dairy products. Healthy complex carbohydrates include vegetables and whole grains. Your post-workout meal should also contain a moderate amount lean protein (10 to 20 grams) and a bit of healthy fat; plus plenty of water. Again, in addition to providing your body with glucose (quick fuel) to build up the glycogen stores in your liver and muscles, a post-workout meal rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants helps to repair muscle tissue, ease post-workout soreness and replenish body fluids.

Obesity and our children

Where are we in our fight against the “war on childhood obesity” in the United States? According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, between 16% and 33% of children and teenagers are obese. Obesity increases the risk of suffering from chronic conditions and illnesses, such as heart disease. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama has brought the spotlight back onto this issue, giving it a fresh perspective. The first step in preventing, and even reversing, this disturbing health crisis is in publicizing it or increasing awareness through media venues, campaigns, partnerships and alliances. The goal of the “Let’s Move” campaign is to improve nutrition and reduce childhood obesity. As a mom and a very prominent public figure, Michelle Obama realizes that with power comes a responsibility to make a difference through awareness and action. Most Americans don’t realize that obesity is the most common form of malnutrition in the United States today.

Childhood Obesity: “Let’s Move” Accomplishments

What has “Let’s Move” accomplished to defeat childhood obesity? Many large corporations and non-profit organizations have come forward, willing to donate time, money and resources to this cause. The National Hockey League (NHL), Major League Baseball (MLB) and Disney have all teamed up with “Let’s Move” to create public service announcements (PSAs). These PSAs feature actors and athletes, who inspire kids to sign up for team sports and get active.

Raising healthier kids is no small undertaking. Luckily there are plenty of resources available, national and local, on- and off-line such as your state’s department of health services. Act now, act quickly. Start slowly.


1. Keep plenty of healthy foods in your home for quick snacks and meals, such as low- or non-fat yogurt, whole-grain crackers, fruits and vegetables and lean meats.

2. Play with your children, in and/or outdoors. Exercise reduces the risk for childhood and adolescent obesity.

3. Set an example. Live healthfully and show your child how it is done.

Fitness basics: how to start a home exercise routi...

Developing a home fitness routine may seem daunting, even overwhelming, particularly if you are an exercise novice. In a world where “instant” is the norm, particularly in today’s technology world, it is tempting to skip the planning phase, diving into a potentially inappropriate exercise routine and overspending on exercise equipment. Save money, time, and potentially injury by familiarizing yourself with some fitness basics.

Health Check

Before embarking on any moderate to vigorous exercise routine, it is essential to check with your doctor and possibly schedule a physical, particularly if you have an existing medical condition, such as high blood pressure.


A well-balanced routine includes two main components: cardiovascular activity and strength training. However, stretching post-exercise, while muscles are warm, enhances flexibility and reduces your risk of injury.

Fitness Guidelines

Guidelines: If you are not familiar with the exercise recommendations for healthy Americans, this is the place to start. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide age-specific exercise guidelines and lists some of the benefits of exercise based on their 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Toolkit.

Fitness Assessment

Assessment: Make goal setting easier by assessing your wants, needs and potential limitations. Determine how much space you have in your home for working out comfortably, outline a budget and make a list of physical activities you currently enjoy or enjoyed as a child.

Goal Setting

Goal setting: The information gained from your assessment as well as your fitness goals will help you determine the best picks for your home fitness equipment. Start by setting two to three fitness goals. Ideally, goals should be specific, realistic and measurable. Perhaps you wish to lose weight and/or body fat, tone and strengthen specific muscle groups to improve sports performance or enhance flexibility to ease the pain of tight muscles.

While it is certainly possible to engage in an exercise routine at home without pre-planning, taking the time to plan and self-reflect will help you avoid making costly and potentially dangerous choices. Planning reduces the likelihood that your brand new stationary bike will end up serving as an expensive coat rack.