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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Exercise

Slow and steady pace wins race to fitness

Eileen Yager, Communications Officer, Extension & Ag Information, University of Missouri

Don’t go into a vigorous sport if you haven’t been active. You need to start off slowly and build up gradually.

Jumping feet first into a vigorous exercise program could land you back in your easy chair, nursing sore muscles by the next day.

“Don’t go into a vigorous sport if you haven’t been active,” said Steve Ball, a University of Missouri Extension Fitness Specialist. “You need to start off slowly and build up gradually.”

“Exercise, or physical activity, doesn’t have to be painful for you to get fit,” he said. “And actually if it’s painful, you’re doing something wrong.”

Ball, who developed an eight-video series called “Fitness and Wellness for a Lifetime” to educate consumers, recommends a little preparation before increasing your activity level.

The first step is determining your medical readiness, Ball said. The PAR-Q Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire, can help would-be exercisers quickly identify health risks:

  • Has a doctor ever said you have heart trouble?
  • Do you suffer frequently from chest pains?
  • Do you often feel faint or have spells of severe dizziness?
  • Has a doctor ever said your blood pressure was too high?
  • Has a doctor ever told you that you have a bone or joint problem, such as arthritis, that has been or could be aggravated by exercise?
  • Are you over age 65 and not accustomed to any exercise?
  • Are you taking any prescription medications, such as those for heart problems or high blood pressure?
  • Is there a good physical reason not mentioned here that you should not follow an activity program?

“If you say ‘no’ to all of the questions, you can be reasonably certain that you’re medically ready,” Ball said. “If you answer ‘yes’ to any of them, you need to visit with a physician before you become more physically active.”

Ball said wearing the right shoes can prevent injuries. Specialized athletic shoes, like those designed for walking, running or basketball, provide the proper support, cushioning and alignment, which can reduce discomfort and allow for longer periods of more efficient exercise.

For proper fit, he said, “You should go later in the day to buy shoes because your foot will expand throughout the day.”

Ball said new shoes should be broken in before wearing them for a physical activity. This can be done by wearing them around the house several times for short periods.

Wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothes will help keep the body cooler during exercise, he said, adding that nylon or rubberized fabrics should be avoided.

“A lot of people think ‘If I’m sweating a lot, I’m losing weight',” Ball said. “All you’re really doing is getting dehydrated.”

The “Fitness and Wellness for a Lifetime” video series is available to public-access TV channels in Missouri. For more information, contact Ball at (573) 882-2334 or via e-mail at

Source: Steve Ball (573) 882-2334






Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009





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