Monday, July 14, 2003

Fit bits


Ways to stay active and healthy

By Shauna Scott Rhone
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hot news

In the swing: With summer softball and baseball little leagues in full swing, the American Council on Exercise suggests important ways to protect young arms from the damage of repetitive movement.

The stress of repeated overhand throwing, especially pitching, on a still-developing musculoskeletal system can produce a variety of injuries. Most throwing-related injuries involve the shoulder, upper arm or elbow and typically involve the growth plate cartilage or the connective tissue elements (tendons and ligaments).

A proper physical conditioning program generally helps prevent injuries associated with overhand throwing. A year-round conditioning program that includes general fitness activities like running, calisthenics and stretching and specific strengthening exercises for the rotator cuff (the shoulder-stabilizing muscles) and the arm and forearm muscles will help reduce the risk of throwing injuries in young pitchers.

Parents and coaches need to be especially vigilant when it comes to the safety and health of each young athlete. Pay attention to the warning signs of injury and set a conservative limit to the number of pitches per game.

Shelf help

For the health of it: Battling the after-effects of chemotherapy can leave cancer survivors feeling drained and sapped of energy. Studies have shown that patients who incorporate exercise into their lives have shorter hospital stays, report significantly less fatigue and experience a high quality of life during treatment. Exercises for Chemotherapy Patients by Dr. Harry Raftopoulos and registered nurse Erin O'Driscoll (Hatherleigh Press; $14.95) gives a sound at-home exercise program.

Siting

Family fit: Kidnetic.com is a Web site promoting healthy eating and active living habits for children ages 9-12 and their families. Sponsored by the International Food Information Council Foundation, this ad-free site also has a Parent's Page with valuable information on how to help kids eat right and ways to keep them active.

Tips

Before you buy: The impulse to get in shape spurs many Americans to buy expensive exercise equipment. However, it often winds up in storage because it's too boring, uncomfortable or painful to use. For people just beginning an exercise program, University of Alabama at Birmingham exercise physiologist Dr. Jane Roy recommends a low-tech approach such as walking or climbing stairs as an inexpensive way to discover which exercises work best.

"The problem is that people often equate expensive equipment with results. It doesn't happen that way," says Dr. Roy.

She suggests trying stair climbing or using an inexpensive pair of barbells or exercise bands. Choose the low-cost exercise you most enjoy and then buy the equipment that gives enhanced support. For example, if stair climbing's the thing that gets you pumped, consider purchasing a step machine with challenging features to take you to the next level.

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Contact Shauna Scott Rhone by phone 768-8511; fax 768-8330, or e-mail at srhone@enquirer.com




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