Monday, January 5, 2009

Q & A: Is it OK to exercise at night?

Q. Is it “O.K.” to exercise at night? Will this affect sleep, diet, etc.? Is there an ideal time of day to work out?

A. The answer to all three questions is “yes”. It is “ok” to exercise at night and it may affect your sleep—for some people positively–for others, negatively. Each person must experiment and find what works for them. As for exercising affecting diet, it is an individual issue. Anecdotally, someone who is committed to an exercise program will make healthier choices in their diet And finally, “is there an ideal time to exercise?”, any time you can fit exercise into your schedule is ideal. Some find mornings the best time to exercise, then dinner meetings and evening engagements are not jeopardized. Others use their lunch hour to burn the calories rather than take them in. Find what schedule works for you and make it happen.

Q. No matter how many sit-ups and crunches I do, I cannot seem to flatten my lower abdomen. Any ideas?

A. A couple of things may be going on, additional abdominal body fat, being female, or doing too many crunches. First, all the crunches in the world can not offset abdominal body fat. You may have some beautifully toned and carved abdominals hidden beneath some belly fat. A sound aerobic program, smart, low-fat eating, and copious amounts of water will help with reducing body fat

Second, females have a little "safety pouch" of body fat just above the pubic bone; it is there for a reason…to preserve the species. The body fat protects the internal organs in case of trauma. Thirdly, too many crunches will actually increase the size of the abdominal area. The abdominals, like all muscles, will grow with exercise.

Q. Should I stretch before or after a workout?

A. Actually, both times are great times to stretch. Contrary to popular thought and the old school ways, stretching afterwards is preferred if it was one or the other. The muscles are much more pliable after a thorough warm-up and workout. A post-stretching regimen would garnish the greatest results. In a perfect world, a warm-up and modified stretch prior to your workout followed by a thorough stretching routine after your workout would be best.

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