Overcoming Cardio Boredom

Cardio is one of the least glamorous and appealing aspects of exercise and physical fitness. Why? Because it’s boring.

Being confined to a treadmill for an entire hour five times a week does help you lose weight, but it’s dreadfully uninteresting. Maybe watching TV helps (which most gyms will allow you to do now while in the cardio area), but doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose of exercising?

Besides, when you’re running hard and keeping your heart rate up, it’s hard to focus on anything else, much less a TV show that reminds you of fond memories at home on the couch.
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Put down the Wine, Buddy, and Back away Real Slow…

Over the years, there have been dozens of studies that document the health benefits of resveratrol, a natural chemical found in the skin of red grapes, pomegranates, and elsewhere. Those benefits include improving cardiovascular functioning, reducing diabetes symptoms, heart attack and cancer risks, lowering cholesterol, slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s, and generally protecting against age-related […]

There’s Nothing Magical about Losing Weight

weight loss magic

Dear Mr. Dad: The statistics on childhood obesity and all the associated health risks seem to get worse every day. I know I shouldn’t admit it, but banning all sugar and junk food from our diet is just not going to work in our family. Short of that, aren’t there some simpler things we can do to reduce the chances that our children will become fat?

A: I understand your point about the impracticality of trying to completely give up sugar and junk food. But it almost sounds like you’re looking for a magic pill that will immunize your kids from putting on too much weight. Sad to say, there isn’t anything like that. Yet. I’m sure scientists around the world are frantically working towards a diet pill like that, because whoever gets there first will make billions. That said, there are some relatively simple, non-magical things you can do to reduce your children’s obesity risk.
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How Much Exercise Do We Really Need?

Over the years, we’ve done a number of posts on this blog about how much exercise we (and our children) should be getting. The general consensus is at least 30 minutes every day (or a total of 150 minutes per week). Unfortunately, about 80% of us aren’t coming anywhere near that target. So, in what [...]

When Bigger Is Not Better

bigorexia

Dear Mr. Dad: A few months ago, you wrote a column about how boys can have eating disorders, including anorexia. Since anorexia is usually about body image, I started wondering whether boys’ body image issues could be making them obsessed with building muscle. Is that possible?

A: It’s not only possible, it’s a real condition. What you’re describing is technically called “muscle dysmorphia,” but because that’s such a mouthful, a lot of people call it “bigorexia” instead. A strange word, but one that really gets the point across. Anorexics look in the mirror and, no matter how skinny they are, they see a fat person. Bigorexics look in the mirror and, no matter how buff they are, they see a 98-pound weakling. The condition affects mainly men, but some women can suffer from it as well.
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Calories and Fat: Burning Them Takes a Ton of Work

calories and fat

Dear Mr. Dad: My husband and teenage son are both overweight. I’ve been trying to get them to cut back on the junk they eat, but telling them about calories and fat doesn’t have any effect. Is there some other way to get through to them?

A: My youngest daughter and I recently stopped into an IHOP. We hadn’t been there for a while so I was surprised to see that each menu item included calories and fat grams. The numbers were so huge—in some cases a single dish included several weeks’ worth of saturated fats—that I immediately lost my appetite and had nothing but ice water (my daughter, however, thoroughly enjoyed her pancakes and scrambled eggs). On the way out, I asked the manager whether business had taken a hit since putting calories and fat information on the menu. Not in the slightest.

I started looking into this and discovered the problem:  Most people don’t pay attention to calories and fat numbers because they simply have no idea how much of either they’re supposed to be getting every day—or how much is too much. No wonder you can’t turn on the TV or read a newspaper without hearing about the epidemic of obesity.
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