Community: The Social

Fitness chat

Dr Wilby Williamson and Dr Rhodri Martin join us to take your questions on training for a marathon from scratch, exercising at home, exercising with an eating disorder and more...


Fostress - TheSite mod: So the first question is from Arctic Roll who says 'How can a fat arse like me prepare for a marathon!?'

Wilby & Rhodri: Okay, thanks Fostress. First of all, setting small achievable goals and pacing yourself is the most important thing. Preparation requires months, so don't have the expectation of signing up at Christmas and running in April.

Bubbleyberry: A balanced diet and some friendly motivation helps!

Fostress - TheSite mod: Good suggestion Bubbleyberry :)

Wilby & Rhodri: It doesn't matter what size or shape you are - anyone can get there. You just have to make sure your goals are realistic. If you've never run a marathon before, a good first goal might be to do a local 5K run.

The NHS Choices 'Couch to 5K' is a great place to start. It's a simple downloadable running plan - within 9 weeks you'll be running 5K :) The biggest hurdle is getting started. You need to give yourself time, so you might only aim to do a run every couple of days. If you're too gung-ho at the start, you're more likely to get injured.

Lau: I did a marathon event on Sunday, I'd never done a challenge as big before and was so not ready for it. I completed it but ouch, I kill now! I should have started out smaller. I'll know for the next charity event.

Fostress - TheSite mod: Well done Lau, yeah pacing yourself is vital, otherwise you risk injury.

Bubbleyberry: Good luck for the next one Lau :)

Wilby & Rhodri: Some simple principles to follow would be to make sure you don't increase the frequency, intensity and time you're running more than 20% at a time. This will help prevent injury.

For example, if you can manage 2.5K your next target would be 3K. If you jump up to 5K or 6K - that would probably be a step too far.

Bubbleyberry: Great advice :)

Fostress - TheSite mod: That sounds really useful guys, thanks. Does anyone else have any questions?

Sophiepeapie: I used to start off running and pushing myself further each day, started off at 30mins for a mile and a half (I blame the dog), then I got down to 13mins.

Wilby & Rhodri: Wow Sophiepeapie, that's fab and well done Lau for completing your event. We're glad to hear this advice will help in the future. Keep yourself running, motivated and enjoying shorter distances - less pain and you can build up again.

Bubbleyberry:  Cooling down is vital as well! Otherwise lactic acid build up will hurt.

Sophiepeapie: Thanks!

Lau: Really dumb guys, lactic acid? No idea here :-/

Bubbleyberry: Oh sorry, it's a build up of acid in the muscles from exercise, as a short answer. Someone else can explain properly!

Fostress - TheSite mod: Thanks Bubbleyberry - I was just looking for info for Lau on that.

Bubbleyberry: No worries :) My degree of BSc Exercise, Nutrition and Health Psychology helps in this chat, and I also did a personal trainer qualification too. Still, it's fab to have experts to learn from too!

Wilby & Rhodri: We can talk a bit about lactic acid too. There are a lot of misperceptions about it. When the intensity of exercise increases, our body's metabolism changes to cope with the demand. As a by-product we start producing lactic acid. This can be associated with that feeling of exertion and struggling to be able to maintain intensity.

The more frequently you train and the fitter you become, the better your body adapts and is able to cope with this level of intensity and keep the muscles supplied with energy.

Sophiepeapie: How can we know how fast or slow our metabolism goes? And is there a way to increase my metabolism?

Wilby & Rhodri: Good question Sophiepeapie. Metabolism is very individual. There are lots of different determining factors including our weight, body composition, our individual make-up etc. Your metabolism increases with physical activity.

Sophiepeapie: So if I was to continue what I do, it should slowly increase? And skipping meals won't help the metabolism at all?

Wilby & Rhodri: The aim of keeping fit and being physically active is that we increase our body's metabolism so we stay tuned and are geared up to stay healthy. The one thing to consider with weight management is that our bodies adapt to try and maintain our weight. Exercise needs to be varied, changing the exercise you do every 6 to 12 weeks for example.

Sophiepeapie: Okay, thank you :)

Wilby & Rhodri: It's important to keep eating healthily and if your target is to lose weight then make sure you set targets that you want to get to say 12 months down the line. Hope that helps Sophie.

Sophiepeapie: Yup, thank you, Wilby & Rhodri!

Tom: I'm hoping to do a half marathon in September. I'd like to know if you've any hints to get my time down and limit wear on my legs and joints. Also, I'd like to work on my upper body where I'm weaker. I can't afford a gym.

Wilby & Rhodri: Ok, let's look at getting your time down first. Think about the quality of your session, you can shorten the distance and increase the speed. You might want to include a speed session a couple of times a week, it's not all about going and doing a long slog of a run. You may have heard of interval training, which is particularly good at improving speed and helping overall fitness.

In terms of reducing wear on your legs and joints, there's actually no evidence that shows that running damages your joints and actually it improves the quality of your cartilage and bone.

Bubbleyberry: I got told by my consultant that exercising with my joints is dangerous?

Wilby & Rhodri: Bubbleyberry, for individuals who have pre-existing problems with their joints, the scenario might be a little different, but physical activity still might be beneficial.

Bubbleyberry: I know, sorry! Thanks :)

Wilby & Rhodri: Injury prevention comes down to pacing yourself, allocating recovery time, thinking about nutrition and making sure you get your fruit and veg!

Tom: I do karate twice a week and fear overdoing it. I think it may affect flexibility too. I could eat better though.

Wilby & Rhodri: So moving on to upper body strength . I set myself a challenge at home (Wilby) to do push-ups and teamed up with a friend to keep motivated to do it. We were a bit daft though and our target was 5,000 in a month. I wouldn't recommend that, but I'd try and start with about 20 a night.

Bubbleyberry: Push ups and sit ups every night helps me :)

Tom: I find motivation alone difficult. I did some push ups in my room this week and thought 'come on, got to be better than this'.

Lau: I can't do push-ups. Got no upper body strength at all.

Bubbleyberry: Maybe start with just one Lau, the more you carry on, the easier it becomes and the more you will be able to do :)

Wilby & Rhodri: Lau, you could also start by doing push-ups against the wall, and if that's too easy you could try on your knees, using your knees as a pivot rather than your feet.

Wilby & Rhodri: Agreed Tom, motivation is tough. I needed a push-up buddy, but that might be hard to find if you want them to do 5,000! ;)

Bubbleyberry: Don't put yourself down Tom, reward yourself with things which make you happy :)

Fostress - TheSite mod: That's a good idea Bubbleyberry, and you could try doing them in front of the telly too.

Bubbleyberry: Music helps me.

"Regardless of what you look like or your shape, it's important to remember that being physically active is really beneficial."

Tom: Are they good push ups though bubbley, no cheating at the end?

Bubbleyberry: Nope, no cheating. I stick to my fitness regime, people say I'm stupid but hey, it's up to me I guess. I know what I'm doing.

Tom: Very good.

Fostress - TheSite mod: Ok, we've got a question about exercising and agoraphobia - how can you exercise in the home?

Wilby & Rhodri: The home is the perfect place to start. Keep things fun, simple and easy. You could start with putting on your favourite tune and doing a few moves (do a little wiggle), hehe. But then, if you want to start thinking about more of a routine, think about what you've got around the house you could use. If you've got stairs, you could go up and down them for 10 minutes.

Fostress - TheSite mod: Sounds good.

Bubbleyberry: Fitness DVD's? Or sits ups/push ups/squats (floor work) can be done at home.

Lau: Exercise is good. Fitness DVD's keep me in shape!

Wilby & Rodhri: Exercise DVDs are excellent too Lau.

Goodlife: Exercising makes me so tired I can't be depressed, so go exercise!!

Bubbleyberry: That's great Goodlife. Exercise is an amazing help for our mental health too. What about the Wii fit? Is that really a true form of exercise?

Wilby & Rhodri: Yes Bubbleyberry, as long as you don't cheat and use your wrists. Xbox Kinect is probably better for fitness though.

Goodlife: Kinect is an awesome work out.

Tom: I'd get a hard time from the people I live with if I used the stairs. I could just about manage something in my room. I'd like to measure my progress and vary the routine.

Wilby & Rhodri: You could design yourself a circuit Tom with push-ups, sit-ups and tricep dips using a chair? In terms of your mental health Goodlife, from studies that follow 1,000s of people, people who are more physically active have a 30-40% lower risk of depression. Some people get an exercise high when they feel a real buzz - but often that's associated with vigorous exercise. You might have heard it called an 'endorphin high'.

Goodlife: Oh, I think kids these days (me) call it 'runners high'.

Tom: I don't know how significantly I'd improve. I'd like something to measure it against.

Wilby & Rhodri: Tom, you could think about how many sit-ups you can do in a minute and then look to see how you can increase it - is that the kind of thing you mean?

Tom: It's like, if I go to a gym and can lift a weight and in a few weeks time can lift 5lbs more, then I can see it. I don't know how much being able to do a few more sit ups will change my fitness in other areas. Also, should I worry one of my arms clicks when I do push ups?

Wilby & Rhodri: I found that when I was doing my push-up challenge that it got easier for me to do more, it didn't hurt as much and I could do them more quickly.

Tom: Okay, thanks.

Wilby & Rhodri: Does that answer your question? I guess it depends what you're trying to improve though? What is your target with your exercise and for your upper body? It's unlikely the clicking is significant but if you're worried then do get it checked out by your GP.

Tom: It helps. I want a good time for my run, but feel my arms, chest and upper body are too small.

Wilby & Rhodri: Sounds like you're going in the right direction and have some good ideas so far, so keep at it :)

Tom: Thanks.

Sam: How do I work on my paunch? I'm not fat but curiously I've developed a paunch belly which looks bad.

Wilby & Rhodri: Thanks for your question Sam. Regardless of what you look like or your shape, it's important to remember that being physically active is really beneficial. It reduces long term risks of heart disease, some cancers and overall improves the quality of your life.

Bubbleyberry: *Exercises non-stop then!*

Wilby & Rhodri: In terms of thinking about toning up, unfortunately it can be a bit of a struggle and you have to think about doing some core exercises such as sit-ups or consider something like Pilates which is excellent for toning your abdominal muscles. There are lots of great videos online for this. Hope that helps Sam :)

Bubbleyberry:  Pilates is a killer but fun!!

Sam: Thanks Wilby and Rhodri I'll be watching the video after chat.

Fostress - TheSite Mod: OK, this is an anonymous question from the discussion boards. What about exercise and eating disorders? People say how dangerous it is but how true is that?

Wilby & Rhodri: It's really important that if you are suffering from an ED that you seek advice from health professionals before starting any new exercise routine. In an individual situation, sometimes exercise can have a negative effect because people can try and use it to maintain an unhealthy weight. In this kind of situation, there's an increased risk of stress to the bones.

Bubbleyberry: Is stuff like sit ups okay?

Wilby & Rhodri: If you're body is active then it needs fuel. They're designed to go together, so you need a healthy balanced diet to give you all the right nutrients. In the context of an eating disorder, bones might have a lower density and that can increase the risks of developing stress to them.

Sam: To reduce weight I've started going on brisk walks every day. I walk about 4 miles. Recently I've developed a weird sharp pain in my knee especially when I walk up stairs. Should I worry? I also do about 200 sit-ups per day.

Wilby & Rhodri: Wow, sounds like you're doing a lot of exercise. You may need to pace yourself a little bit more and maybe vary your exercise with things like swimming or cycling? If your knee persists though, do go and see your GP.

Sam: I don't know how to swim but, I will definitely try cycling.

Sophiepeapie: Swimming works wonders for your joints!

Fostress - TheSite mod: Ok guys, it's time to wrap up now I'm afraid.

Bubbleyberry: Thank you Wilby and Rhodri :)

Sam: Thanks! It was great to chat.

Wilby & Rhodri: Thanks for your great questions guys - it's been a pleasure!

Sophiepeapie: Thanks for the great chat! :)

Bubbleyberry: Great advice, really helpful and much appreciated :) Thank you!

Tom: Thanks for the help guys, goodnight.

Lau: Thank you all for the advice :)

Fostress - TheSite mod: Cool, bye then all!!


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