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Doctor's Mailbox: Keep Fat at Bay When Summer's Gone Away

For those who pursue physical fitness during the summer months, winter does not have to be an excuse to pack away the running shoes and sweat suits.

Q. Why should I get in shape and stay fit?
Studies have shown that regular exercise significantly increases life expectancy and improves overall health. Regular physical activity reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. An improved self-image and increased energy level are also added benefits of exercise.

Q. What kinds of exercise are best?
Choose an exercise program that matches your needs and ability, also one you may enjoy. Resistance training with weights or exercise machines is a good way to stay in shape and is recommended by fitness experts. Running, bicycling, hiking, swimming or other kinds of aerobic exercise are also good ways to stay fit. Consult your doctor or a physical trainer to design an exercise routine appropriate for you.

Q. How often should I exercise?
Ideally, exercise should be a daily routine. However, if you aren't used to exercising, it's best to begin slowly. Exercising 10 to 15 minutes every other day is a good way to start. Then, increase the length of your workout gradually until you can exercise about 45 minute a day. Always warm up with stretching prior to exercising, don't over train and remember to drink plenty of fluids during and following your workout.

Q. What foods should I eat to get the most out my exercise program?
Once you start a fitness program, it's important to eat right to compensate for the calories you're burning. Food rich in proteins and calories such as meat, fish, poultry, beans and dietary products are recommended. Fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals and breads can provide sources of additional vitamins and minerals. Also, talk to your doctor about your individual dietary needs.

Q. May I continue exercising outdoors as the temperature gets colder?
Yes. Continue outdoor fitness activities, such as jogging, provided certain precautions are taken. When engaged in outdoor activities, warm dress is important. Appropriate items are sweat pants, shirt and a jacket or windbreaker. For the winter, hat and gloves are a must. We lose a majority of our heat through the surface area of the head, and extremities, such as fingers, are more subject to the cold.

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Doctor's Mailbox: Keep Fat at Bay When Summer's Gone Away

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