UT Physicians’ cardiologist shares fitness tips for 2011

For example, if you have not worked out for years, it is probably not a good idea to sign up for a 26-mile marathon. Unrealistic expectations doom many fitness resolutions, fitness experts say.

Chiadika, who jogs about 10 miles a week, plans to up her weekly total to 15. “This is not too much of a stretch,” said Chiadika, who is an assistant professor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Exercise not only makes you feel better, it also reduces risk factors for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. It can help keep your blood pressure in check and increase the amount of good cholesterol in your system, both of which will give you a healthier future.

Unfortunately, many Americans are not big on working up a sweat. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey found that in November, only about 50 percent of Americans exercised three or more days in a week.

If you are a couch potato, you may want to get a checkup before you hit the jogging trail. Anyone who experiences chest pain, shortness of breath or extreme fatigue should see a physician, said Chiadika, who trained at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and who sees patients at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center and the Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital.

Here are tips to help you keep that fitness resolution.

  1. Start small – Set realistic goals that you can achieve. Walking 20 minutes at a time without stopping may be a good goal for some. For seasoned runners, finishing a 5K in less than 25 minutes could be a realistic goal. Gradually, you can build up to bigger goals. You don’t want to set yourself up for failure.
  2. Accommodate your body clock – If you are a morning person, get up a little earlier and work out before work or school. Likewise, night owls may be comfortable exercising at the end of the workday. Your workout regimen should be tailored to your schedule.
  3. Be consistent – People tend to overeat during the holidays and you may have gained a few pounds. Exercise will help you burn off those calories you are consuming. Say to yourself, “I eat every day so I need to burn calories every day.”
  4. Make physical activity fun – This could involve listening to music on an iPod while you walk; running on your favorite jogging trail; or watching your favorite television program while you ride an exercise bicycle.
  5. Work around the seasons – During the summer, joggers may want to run before sunrise or after sunset. During the winter, walkers may want to hit a mall or an indoor treadmill. Do not let the weather sideline your program.
  6. Eat moderately – It could take as much as 30 minutes on a treadmill to burn off the 300 or so calories in a doughnut. Eat several and you could be running for a long time. Work out regularly and your metabolism may increase, which may help you burn off even more calories.

Follow these tips for a healthier 2011.

UT Physicians is the medical group practice of UTHealth. Offering primary and specialty care for children, adolescents and adults, the UT Physicians at Sienna Village Health Center is at 8810 Highway 6, Suite 100. For information or to schedule an appointment, please call 713-486-1200 or visit www.UTPhysicians.com. Also, visit UT Physicians at Sienna Village on Facebook.

Rob Cahill
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030