- Is there such a thing as drinking too much water?
- The term for drinking too much water is: “water intoxication”. This condition is rare, but can happen when a person drinks a huge amount of water in a short period of time (equivalent to drinking 5- 10 two liter bottles within a few hours). Having this much fluid can cause the sodium (salt) levels in the body to drop (a condition known as hyponatremia). When this happens, the cells in body begin to swell which can cause confusion, severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, bloating, seizures, comas, and even death.
Although it is important for athletes to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, athletes who are active for long periods of time have a higher risk for water intoxication if they don’t replace the sodium that is lost from sweating. This condition can easily be avoided by eating a small snack or drinking a sports drink during long periods of physical activity. Tell someone immediately if you get a headache, or feel nauseous or dizzy during exercise.
- Should I eat extra protein?
- Although some extra protein is needed to build muscle, most people eat plenty of protein and eating extra will not have any benefit. For most people, 5 ounces of protein foods (such as meat, poultry, fish, beans, tofu, or eggs) every day and 3-4 ounces of dairy protein (such as milk, yogurt, or cheese) will provide enough protein. Eating enough calories is actually more important for building muscle. Without enough calories, your body can’t build new muscle.
- Should I carb-load before my games or competitions?
- When you are training or competing, your muscles need energy to perform. Glycogen, which is glucose stored in our muscles and liver, is the energy used by muscles. Every time you work out, you use some of your glycogen. If you don’t eat enough carbohydrates, you’ll have fewer glycogen stores, and your muscles may not be able to perform their best.
Carbohydrate loading is a technique used to increase the amount of glycogen in muscles and in the liver. It involves eating extra carbohydrates during the week before a competition while at the same time cutting back on training. Carb-loading is intended for marathon runners and is not necessary for most athletes.
- What should I eat before a game/practice?
- Performance depends mostly on the foods you ate in the days and weeks leading up to an event. If you usually eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates, you will probably have enough energy (glycogen) stored in your body to perform well. The purpose of the “pre-competition” meal is to prevent hunger and to provide the water and energy you will need during the game/practice.
There is no magic pre-exercise diet, so use your own experience to figure out which foods work best for you. Some general tips for eating before games/practices are:
- Eat a larger meal if you have 3-6 hours before you begin your exercise. Smaller “mini” meals are better if you only have an hour or two before your workout begins. Meals that are high in complex carbohydrates are powerful because they give your muscles the very best source of fuel. Whole grain pasta, bagels, baked potatoes, rice, and fresh fruit are all good sources of complex carbohydrates.
- Limit the amount of fatty foods such as fast food, eggs, meat, and cheese that you eat for your pre-exercise meal. These foods take much longer to digest and may make you feel sluggish and tired.
- Avoid high-bulk (high-fiber), gas forming foods such as broccoli, baked beans, or bran cereal. These foods may cause gas pains during exercise.
- Avoid sugars and sweets, especially soft drinks and candy, less than 1 hour before training. High-sugar foods will give you quick energy, but it won’t last long.
- Do not try new foods before a competition. You may have trouble digesting a food you have never eaten before. Choose foods that you eat regularly and are familiar to you.
- What should I eat after a game/practice?
- You need food after a game/practice to replace the carbohydrate burned and the electrolytes lost. Electrolytes are found in nearly all foods, so you don’t need a special drink to get those. Your body will replenish its energy stores (glycogen) the best if you eat a food with carbohydrates and some protein after working out like a half of a protein based sandwich or a yogurt.
- Do I need to lift heavy weights to build muscle?
- No. You do not need to lift heavy weights to strengthen and tone muscles on your body. You can build muscles by doing toning exercises, lifting light weights, or playing sports. You can even strengthen certain muscle groups by doing activities such as cleaning your room and carrying your book bag.
- How can I lose weight just in my stomach?
- There are no exercises or nutrition plans that can target weight loss to a specific area of your body, like your stomach. You can strengthen your core stomach muscles, and this will help your abs be stronger.
- How can I strengthen my abs?
- Firming your abdominal area takes a regular exercise routine and time. Simple abdominal crunches or sit-ups are easy and effective. You do not need to buy fancy ab equipment. Combining cardio (exercises that make you sweat) with ab training will build muscle and burn stored adipose (fat) tissue. Strong abs also help prevent back injuries.
- Why do boys seem to get more muscular than girls? (I go to the gym with my guy friends and they are seeing results faster than I am.)
- It’s true; males build muscle faster than females do. This is because guys have more testosterone, a male hormone, which helps form muscle. Since women naturally have less testosterone, they build muscle at a slower pace. Girls can build strong muscles by exercising regularly and eating nutritious foods.
- Do I need to stretch when I exercise?
- Yes. Proper stretching before and after exercise is important for preventing injuries in all your muscle groups (upper, mid, and lower body). It also decreases your risk of back injury. You will see improvements in flexibility over time. Everyone has the potential to become more flexible.
- My friend told me that the pain I feel in the front of my lower legs is really shin splints. What are shin splints and how do I avoid getting them?
- “Shin splints” is a term used to describe any pain in the shins, the area in the front of the lower leg below the knee. You usually feel shin splints 2 to 24 hours after aerobic exercise. You can avoid getting shin splints by making sure to stretch before and after any aerobic exercise and wearing sneakers with good support. Listen to your body when you are exercising. If the exercise causes pain, stop immediately.
- What are the best exercises for weight loss?
- There is no magic workout for weight loss, but cross training is a healthy plan. Cross training means balancing a variety of cardiovascular, muscle conditioning, and flexibility activities. This prevents boredom, so you will stick with your fitness routine.
- Cardiovascular activities are exercises that use your heart muscle, burn energy, and build muscle. These include: sports, cheerleading, power walking, running, dancing, or other exercises that make you sweat.
- Muscle conditioning exercises include weight lifting and toning exercises like push ups, sit-ups, or leg lifts. Playing sports can build muscles too. Building muscle raises your metabolism (how your body burns food for energy), and may help prevent osteoporosis (thinning of the bones).
- Flexibility exercises stretch your muscles. Injury prevention is an important benefit of stretching.
- I am thinking of taking a kickboxing class. Can anyone try this?
- Kickboxing is a great exercise for everyone, no matter what your fitness level is. During class, you will learn fun cardio moves that tone the legs, abs, and upper-body. It’s a great way to release stress and learn self-defense moves at the same time.
- Is yoga good for you?
- Yoga is excellent for health. It combines stretching, muscle toning, and breathing. Popular poses include the downward dog and the triangle. Yoga relaxes the body and helps you feel less stressed. You can try a yoga video or take a class.
- Are yoga or exercise balls good to use for toning your body?
- Yoga balls, also know as stability or exercise balls, are a great way to add variety to your muscle conditioning routine. A yoga ball can be used to support your back when you are doing abdominal exercises. You can also sit on the ball, using it like a chair, when you are doing upper body (arms and back) exercises with weights. When doing muscle exercises for the upper body, the yoga ball keeps your core muscles (middle body) working hard. You can even use the yoga ball for different stretches for your back and abs. Make sure you receive proper instruction on your form from a fitness instructor or coach before trying the yoga ball. Yoga balls are fun and effective.
- What should I do if I feel too tired to exercise?
- Try to exercise even if you feel tired. Listening to music can help motivate you! When you exercise, you usually sleep better at night and will have more energy later. It’s true-exercise actually gives you more energy in the long run.
- Should I eat before I exercise?
- If you have not eaten for several hours, you should have a snack and water before you start working out. Try something with carbohydrate fuel like a low fat granola bar, cereal bar, fruit, peanut butter and crackers, or yogurt. Drink about 1 cup (8oz.) of fluid. This is quick and easy fuel for exercising.
- How often do I need to exercise?
- Teens should aim to include at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week.