By Stephenie Karony

Wednesday, June 23, 1999

A little exercise
can add years

Question: Is getting moderate exercise enough for me to live a longer life?

Answer: To live a better life, get some exercise. To live a longer life, work a little harder and step up the pace.

According to a study recently reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, moderate activity won't boost longevity.

Nonvigorous exercise did not reduce mortality rates, whereas vigorous exercise is associated with lower mortality rates.

Vigorous exercise is defined as exertion requiring at least six times the effort as resting.

Some good examples are very brisk walking, jogging, swimming laps, playing singles tennis or doing heavy chores around the yard, such as pushing a lawn mower.

Even though moderate exercise doesn't necessarily boost longevity, it has many other benefits. Any amount of exercise will improve the quality of one's life, increase energy and strength and promote physical and emotional well-being. If you exercise a little harder than moderately, exercise can help regulate blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and adult-onset diabetes.

What constitutes "vigorous" exercise for one person may not be vigorous for another.

Any exercise is better than no exercise. But for people who can exercise at a higher level, why not do so? The new data indicates you'll probably live not just a better, but a longer life!

Q: I'm preparing to run a half marathon. Will carbo-loading be helpful, and if it is, how do I go about doing it?

A: If you're training for an endurance event, carbo-loading may make a difference in your performance.

Carbo-loading is when you super-saturate your muscles with glucose (sugar) by increasing your carbohydrate food intake in the days before an event. If done correctly, carbo-loading may improve both power and speed during endurance events lasting more than 90 minutes.

Carbohydrates are either complex or simple. Complex carbs are foods such as rice, potatoes, bread, pasta and cereals. Simple carbs include table sugar, cake, candy and soda, etc. Both types of carbs break down into glucose when you eat them. Glucose (sugar) is either burned for energy, stored in your muscles as glycogen, or if you overeat, stored in your body as fat.

When your body requires extra energy, say for a 90 minute race, the glycogen stored in your muscles is taken out and changed back into glucose and made available for energy. The amount of glycogen stored in your muscles is directly related to the amount of carbohydrates in your diet.

Carbo-loading usually starts around one week prior to an event. In the weeks before this final seven days, eat about 60 percent of your total daily calories from carbohydrates, then increase that number to about 70 percent in the final week. The most beneficial carbo-loading foods are pasta, rice and potatoes.

Eat about 20 percent of the daily calories from fat and about 10 percent from protein. Be sure to stay super-hydrated. Drink about 6 extra cups of water a day in the two days before the event. Don't drink coffee, soda or alcohol; all three are dehydrating fluids.

When you're not carbo-loading, carbohydrates are still an important part of any overall healthy eating plan, but eating too much can cause weight gain. For a high- level exerciser, I recommend a diet that includes 55 percent total daily calories from carbohydrates, 15 percent to 20 percent from fat, and 25 percent to 30 percent from protein.

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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