By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, March 24, 1999

Rubber tubes
can be useful
exercise tool

QUESTION: Is using rubber tubing a good alternative to lifting weights?

ANSWER: Rubber tubing and elastic bands are not the equipment of choice among serious weight lifters, but they can be useful for some other groups of exercisers.

They are a helpful aid for individuals rehabilitating from an injury.Rubber tubing also serves the needs of older adults and senior exercisers, and people who are reluctant to use free weights can benefit from their use as well.

Their advantages include low cost, safety and especially versatility -- the number of exercises using elastic tubing is limited only by your imagination.And if storage space is at a premium, elastic tubing is just the ticket.

For people who travel a lot and are unwilling to completely give up their resistance workouts while on the road, tubing is sufficient, not to mention very convenient. All one need do is roll them up. They take up very little suitcase space and weigh next to nothing.

The main disadvantage to exercising with tubing is the lack of uniform resistance throughout the range of motion of an exercise. There is less resistance at the beginning and increased resistance at the end of the movement.

That's just the opposite of real life movement patterns.The resistance of any movement in real life is greater at the beginning, and it becomes easier as the movement continues.

Consequently, training in this manner isn't consistent with sport-specific resistance training such as you can achieve with free weights.

Another disadvantage is it's hard to gauge or measure a person's progress when their resistance program consists of tubing exclusively.

Of course any form of exercise is better than no exercise at all.And it's my experience that individuals who start out using elastic or rubber tubing eventually graduate to exercising with free weights.

Most sporting goods stores sell a variety of elastic bands and rubber tubing.I recommend rolls; that way you can cut the length you want.Also, purchasing an instruction booklet can save you time.


Q: Can you help me understand my blood pressure readings, and explain what the numbers mean exactly?

A: A blood pressure reading, designated by two numbers, is a measurement of the force exerted by your blood as it travels through your arteries.

The power is supplied by your heart.This power is stronger when your heart is pumping blood, andweaker when it's relaxing between beats and refilling its chambers for the next heartbeat or pumping phase.

The two numbers that make up a blood pressure reading each reflect one phase of your heart's pumping cycle.The top number, the systolic pressure, reflects the pumping phase.The lower number, the diastolic pressure, measures the pressure while your heart is relaxing and refilling.

If your systolic pressure is 140 and your diastolic pressure is 60, it will be read as 140/60, or one hundred forty over sixty.A reading of 140 is equivalent to the amount of force it would take to pump a column of mercury 140 millimeters high.

So what does all this mean?Well, having a lower blood pressure is better than having a higher one.

Your risk of having a heart attack or stroke will decrease as your blood pressure falls.So even though a reading of 140/80 is normal, a reading of 110/70 is much better.

Stephenie Karony is a certified health
and fitness instructor, a personal trainer and the author of
"Body Shaping with Free Weights." Send questions to her at
P.O. Box 262, Wailuku Hi. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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