Health & Wellness

June 18, 2013

5 Exercise Dilemmas Solved


What to do when hectic schedules, aches and missed meals threaten to disrupt your workout routine

By Linda Melone | June 17, 2013

Minor aches and pains, scheduling issues and other concerns lead many people to skip exercise plans instead of figuring out a way around the obstacles. Below, top fitness experts share their thoughts about how to prevent some common quandaries from disrupting your workout routines and commitment to fitness.

(MORE: 5 Ways to Sneak Exercise Into Your Daily Routine)

1. You’re about to work out when you realize you haven’t eaten anything for at least four hours. What should you do?

Have a quick snack, but make sure it’s the right one, advises Amy Goodson, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics and the Dallas Cowboys’ dietitian. Your goal should be to consume enough carbohydrates to sustain energy and enough protein to maintain blood sugar levels. “The best things to eat include quick, convenient snacks that will provide energy and digest fairly quickly,” she says. Here are some good options:

  • 1 slice whole wheat bread with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
  • 1 banana or apple with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
  • An energy or protein bar containing 200 to 250 calories, 25 to 45 grams of carbohydrate, 8 to 15 grams of protein and less than 5 grams of fat.
  • A whole-grain granola bar, plus 10 to 15 almonds.
  • 15 whole-wheat crackers and 1 string cheese.

And this is crucial, she says, “Be sure to drink approximately 16 ounces, or two cups, of fluid, whether it’s water or a sports drink, with your snack.”

(MORE: Fiftysomething Diet: Workout Foods to Fuel Your Boomer Body)

2. Your heart-rate monitor shows a higher-than-normal level during your workout. But you feel fine. Should you stop?

It depends. You can experience an elevated heart rate for a variety of reasons, says exercise physiologist Irv Rubenstein, founder of S.T.E.P.S. fitness in Nashville, Tenn. Dehydration, overtraining, a medical condition affecting heart rhythm, certain prescription drugs or stresses completely unrelated to your workout can all produce a spike.

“What you should do about it depends on the most likely cause,” Rubenstein says. Emotional stress should never be a deterrent to exercise; in fact, it’s probably a good reason to continue your session, since exercise helps relieve stress. If you believe you’re dehydrated, cool down for 10 minutes, drink a cup or two of water and get back to your workout.

“But if the heart rate stays elevated longer than usual, especially if you can feel the pounding in your chest,” Rubenstein says, stop what you’re doing immediately and call your physician. And if you’re experiencing other alarming symptoms, like excessive sweating or tightness in the chest, neck, jaw or arm, get to the emergency room.

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