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During a recent “lunch-and-learn” meeting at our office, several younger staff members were discussing the use of supplements to compliment their fitness routines. One such staff member, Lily Smith, a physical therapy student aid at our clinic from the University of Scranton, is also a serious weight training and fitness enthusiast and shared her experience with creatine supplements with the hope of educating others, especially those preparing to “get fit” in 2024!

A National Health Interview survey found the creatine use among adolescents and young adults to be 34%. It is also very popular in the military with 27% average usage. While athletes and exercise enthusiasts use protein shakes and creatine supplements with hopes to improve size, strength and performance, it appears that most users do not have a full understanding of the risks and benefits. In view of this, today address the use of creatine in strength training and make recommendations based on the literature.

Introduction

As long as I can remember, young athletes would take or do anything that they believed would improve their speed, strength, agility and athletic edge in order to succeed in sports. Running with weights wrapped around the ankles, drinking raw eggs and whole milk, and consuming copious amounts of beef, pork, and chicken were not unusual. Today, it may not be much different. However, the products do not come from our kitchen cabinet and tremendous misinformation is associated with it. Creatine is one example that was purported to enhance performance as early as the 1970’s but only gained popularity in the 1990’s. 40% of all college athletes and 50% of professional athletes admit to using creatine at some point, despite a lack of scientific evidence to support its effectiveness or safety.

Creatine

This supplement is a natural substance that turns into creatine phosphate in the body. Creatine phosphate helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which provides energy for muscles to contract. While the body produces some creatine, it can also be found in foods rich in protein such as meat and fish. Manufacturers claim that creatine use will improve strength, increase lean muscle mass and aide in the recovery from exercise induced fatigue.

Research

While creatine is popular among young people due in part to its availability, very little research has been done in people under 18 years of age.  Even in the few studies conducted on adults, the results regarding efficacy are mixed. Some studies show that creatine may improve strength performance due to the recovery cycle of ATP. In theory, the use of creatine is purported to allow one to recover more quickly from exercise. For example, shortly after lifting heavy weights to failure, a quick recovery might allow the weight lifter to lift an additional set of repetitions to increase the duration of intensive training. Therefore, based on this theory, one must work out to complete failure during training to benefit from creatine. However, it is important to remember, there is no evidence that this purported benefit is realized in performance improvement in weight training or endurance sports.

Furthermore, no studies support the notion that it improves performance in endurance sports. Also, research does show that not all users are affected by creatine the same way. Most users fail to find any benefit at all. More concerning to this author is the fact that there are no guidelines for safety or disclosure of side-effects from long term use. Make no mistake, based on the research and current wisdom, CREATINE IS AN UNPROVEN TREATMENT SUPPLEMENT!

Manufacturers Recommended Usage

If one decides that creatine is a product they would like to use, despite the lack of evidence for its effectiveness, there are recommendations that one should follow for proper use. But there is no consistently established dose. Some studies have found 25 grams daily for 14 days as a “kickstart” dose or “loading” phase followed by 4-5 grams (or 0.1 g/kg of bodyweight) daily for 18 months with few side effects such as: muscle cramps, dehydration, upset stomach, water retention/bloating with weight gain. It is important to remember when establishing a dosage that many weight training supplements already contain creatine and in high doses excess creatine is excreted by the kidneys. It is also recommended that creatine users “wean off” the product when they decide to discontinue use.

Remember, an average adult in the United States receives 1 to 2 grams of creatine each day from a normal, well-balanced diet. Creatine is naturally found in meat, poultry and fish and theoretically, one could increase their creatine intake through dietary changes. Some manufacturers recommend 10 to 30 grams per day with a maintenance dose of 2 to 5 grams per day for athletic performance. Creatine is available in many forms; tablets, capsules and powder. It should be kept in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight.

Side Effects

Creatine use is not recommended if you are pregnant, breast feeding, have kidney disease or bipolar disorder. There are many reported side effects associated with creatine use such as; water retention, nausea, diarrhea, cramping, muscle pain and high blood pressure. It is recommended that users consume large quantities of water when taking creatine to prevent dehydration. It may be very dangerous to use creatine when dehydration or weight loss is associated with an activity such as wrestling or summer sessions during football. 

Furthermore, some studies show that large amounts of carbohydrates may increase the effects of creatine and caffeine may decrease the effects. Users are warned that using creatine with stimulants such as caffeine and guarana (a Brazilian plant extract similar to caffeine found in energy drinks) can lead to serious cardiac problems. The effects of creatine supplements on the many organ systems of the body are unknown. High doses may cause kidney damage. Although no cases have been reported in the literature, it is not known how it may interact with other supplements, over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs.

Conclusion

In conclusion, despite the lack of scientific evidence that creatine is more effective than proper nutrition and effective weight training, it remains a popular, easily available supplement purported to improve strength, endurance and performance in athletes. While relatively safe if taken as directed, it is always wise to consult your physician, especially if you have a history or risk of kidney problems. And, by the way, Lily did not feel that creatine supplements made any significant difference, positively or negatively. She no longer uses it due to the expense, inconvenience and lack of scientific evidence to support its efficacy.

Sources: University of New England; Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise; NIH and Lily Smith, PT student, University of Scranton, Student PT aide, Mackarey Physicla Therapy

.Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Kick Start Your Wellness New Year’s Resolutions: PART II OF II

January is the time of year that many people set goals and resolve to be their very best. Not surprisingly, weight loss and fitness are the most common resolutions. It is also a time when many residents of NEPA will plan vacations and travel to warmer climates. Well, it may be that you can do both… This year consider visiting a “Fitness Resort.” According to “FitStays,” fitness resorts are rapidly gaining popularity for people of all sizes and shapes. Last week in Part I of “Fitness Resorts” we discussed value of fitness resorts. This week we will present “a typical day, how long you should stay, expected costs, and some recommended resorts.

What is a Fitness Resort? (fitstays.com)

A fitness resort is a vacation destination where travelers go to exercise and lose weight. Sometimes called a “weight loss resort”, “fitness retreat”, “wellness resort”, “weight loss boot camp”, or “adult fat camp”, fitness resorts around the United States cater to people of all shapes and sizes.

Most fitness resorts consist of pre-determined, calorie-limited menus to help travelers in their weight loss journey. Some resorts promote menus of 1,000 to 1,500 calories-per-day, which is fewer than most people burn naturally via their resting metabolic rate (RMR).

In addition to net-negative calories through nutrition, fitness resorts and retreats typically have an extensive workout plan as part of their standard program. Many resorts and retreats offer daily hiking, in addition to strength classes, cardio, sports, and other physical activities.

The combination of healthy nutrition and active exercise means that most visitors can expect to lose weight at a fitness resort. Specific weight loss goals are determined by which fitness resort you pick, how long you stay, and how strenuously you want to stick to the program.

Fitness Resort – What’s it all about?

Fitness resorts (fitness retreats) are not your average “Reality TV Fat Camp.” In fact, your do not have to be excessively overweight to attend as people of all shapes and sizes benefit and enjoy the experience. Thousands of people chose to visit fitness resorts and fitness retreats every year because they are looking for a healthy alternative to a typical vacation. Instead, many want to “kick-start” a healthy lifestyle in a controlled environment. The basic concept of combining a limited-calorie diet with daily exercise, most people will have net-negative calories every day, lose weight, and gain strength and endurance at a fitness resort—provided they stick to the program.

Length of Time/Cost

Typically, fitness resorts offer one week programs but multiple weeks with a variety of options are available. However, for the best outcomes and carryover, experts recommend 2-3 weeks for your first visit to a fitness resort.

Fitness resorts, like everything else, vary in cost. According to FitStay, programs cost as little as $1,500 per week (all-inclusive), while some are more than $7,000 per week.

To choose the best fit for you, your budget, and goals, visit fitstay.com. Remember, most fitness resorts are all-inclusive, meaning that you won’t need to budget any extra for food. The program includes meals. Also, when choosing a fitness resort consider: location (where would you like to travel?); cost (how much can you afford to spend?); how long can you stay (one, two or three weeks?)

FitStays – Top 20 Fitness Retreats (7 of these discussed below):

NOTE: One of these includes a fitness retreat in our very own Pocono Mountains!

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Kick Start Your Wellness New Year’s Resolutions- Part I of II

January is the time of year that many people set goals and resolve to be their very best. Not surprisingly, weight loss and fitness are the most common resolutions. It is also a time when many residents of NEPA will plan vacations and travel to warmer climates. Well, it may be that you can do both…this year consider visiting a “Fitness Resort!” According to “FitStays,” fitness resorts are rapidly gaining popularity for people of all sizes and shapes.

What is a Fitness Resort? (fitstays.com)

A fitness resort is a vacation destination where travelers go to exercise and lose weight. Sometimes called a “weight loss resort”, “fitness retreat”, “wellness resort”, “weight loss boot camp”, or “adult fat camp”, fitness resorts around the United States cater to people of all shapes and sizes.

Most fitness resorts consist of pre-determined, calorie-limited menus to help travelers in their weight loss journey. Some resorts promote menus of 1,000 to 1,500 calories-per-day, which is fewer than most people burn naturally via their resting metabolic rate (RMR).

In addition to net-negative calories through nutrition, fitness resorts and fitness retreats typically have an extensive workout plan as part of their standard program. Many resorts and retreats offer daily hiking, in addition to cardio and strength classes and assorted sports and other physical activities.

The combination of healthy nutrition and active exercise means that most visitors can expect to lose weight at a fitness resort. Specific weight loss goals will be determined by which fitness resort you pick, how long you stay, and how strenuously you want to stick to the program.

Fitness Resort – What’s it all about?

Fitness resorts (fitness retreats) are not your average “Reality TV Fat Camp.” In fact, you do not have to be excessively overweight to attend as people of all shapes and sizes benefit and enjoy the experience. Thousands of people chose to visit fitness resorts and fitness retreats every year because they are looking for a healthy alternative to a typical vacation. Instead, many want to “kick-start” a healthy lifestyle in a controlled environment.

Positive Results

Fitness resorts have been found to be effective for most attendees. The basic concept of combining a limited-calorie diet with daily exercise, most people will have net-negative calories every day, lose weight, and gain strength and endurance at a fitness resort—provided they stick to the program.

While some people report losing 1-3 pounds-per-week at a fitness resort, others experience much more success. Exactly how much you will lose will be dependent on a wide variety of factors, including the duration and intensity of your exercise and activities and the calories you consume. Inherently, men tend to lose weight more easily than women, and younger people typically have an easier time shedding pounds than older people.

Ideally, for long term success, a fitness resort program should be a part of a healthy lifestyle, rather than an absolute weight loss goal. Be aware that many “spas and wellness centers” entice people with lavish facilities in a beautiful environment but mostly offer passive modalities such as massage, meditation, acupuncture, manicures, pedicures and facials. While these modalities have value, if your goal is jump start on weight loss and physical fitness, a fitness resort may be a better option.

Frequently Asked Questions…“Will they starve me?” “How intense is the exercise?” “Will I be intimidated?”

Most fitness resorts are not “diet retreats” or painful “boot camps.” With a little effort, you can easily find the right fit for you. You will not starve! While you need to limit caloric intake, you also need enough energy for the 3-6 hours of exercise and activities (swimming, biking, hiking, Zumba, Yoga) offered. There is no need to be intimidated as most attendees are like-minded people with the same goals and needs. A good resort will not only provide the right amount of calories and exercise for your goals but also educate you how to prepare meals and engage in proper exercise once you return home.

A Typical Day at a Fitness Resort

According to FitStays, most fitness resorts offer a set schedule and a camp-like experience for adults with three meals every day, usually prepared by expert nutrition staff and/or dietitians, designed around healthy foods. A typical morning begins with extended cardio exercises, such as a run, bike or hike. The afternoon may have more intense exercise classes such as strength training classes as well as more fun activities such as sports and games. Educational classes are offered throughout the day, so you can carryover the lessons from your fitness resort experience when you return home. Evenings are usually lighter to allow for leisure, rest, or spa services, which are also offered at many resorts.

NEXT WEEK: FITNESS RESORTS - PART II – A typical day at a fitness resort, recommended length stay, cost and top 20 recommended resorts.

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy in Scranton and Clarks Summit. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, please check out our exercise forum!

New Year’s Resolutions are very predictable. While most New Year Resolutions are health oriented, I purport that a healthy mind, body and spirit requires a healthy lifestyle. Interestingly, the ten most popular resolutions listed below, all have an impact on a healthy life.  

  1. More Time With Family And Friends
    • Polls repeatedly show that one of the most consistent resolutions for the New Year is to make more time to spend with family and friends. Moreover, research shows that the comfort and camaraderie of these people whom we love is important to our health and well-being.
  2. Begin or Improve a Fitness Program
    • The benefits of regular exercise is no longer anecdotal, it is factual. Daily exercise, even in small doses, has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man. Studies clearly demonstrate that it reduces cholesterol and coronary artery disease and the risk of some cancers. Also, it increases longevity, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, enhances mood, lowers blood pressure, and even improves arthritis. In short, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better. If done properly, there is no down side. So, make this year the year to do it!
  3. Adhere to a Weight Loss Plan
    • Recent studies report that more than 66 percent of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese. As a result, weight loss is one of the most popular New Year's resolutions. However, adhering to a weight loss program is not easy. It requires many things, including, setting reasonable goals and staying focused. Often, professional help is required. While this may be one of the most difficult goals to attain, the ultimate reward and value is well worth the effort.
  4. Stop Smoking
    • Second only to losing weight, this resolution, while extremely difficult, is another life-saving goal that must be attempted. Studies report that smokers try and fail four times on average before they are successful. SO, KEEP TRYING! Get help. Talk to your physician about using over-the-counter or prescription nicotine replacement therapy and proven quit-smoking aids. Consider smoking cessation classes, support groups and hotlines in addition to the meds. This is one goal that is worth the effort.
  5. Find Your Smile
    • Due in great part to our hectic and stressful work and family demands, the United States is home to millions of people requiring the use of mood elevators and antidepressants. As a result, it is important to learn what really makes you happy in order to FIND YOUR SMILE. It requires the balance of a healthy mind, body and spirit. It might be a walk in the snow, taking dance classes or a trip to the spa. One hint, it is often something simple and inexpensive.
  6. Moderate Drinking
    • This is one tip for a healthier New Year that I expect to receive plenty of flack about! But, I would be remise if I did not mention this potentially harmful habit. While many people use the New Year as an incentive to finally stop drinking, most are unable to adhere to such a rigid goal. Studies show that moderate drinking can offer many health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and coronary artery disease but that is defined as one or two 8 ounce drinks per day and red wine is preferred. However, many heavy drinkers would do well to taper off to a moderate level. Consider participating in “Dry January!” For those with a problem and have decided that you want to stop drinking, there is a world of help and support available such as Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also a number of treatment-based programs, as well as support groups for families of alcoholics.
  7. Get Finances in Order
    • This is one tip that few consider being health related. However, serious stress from financial problems affects millions of Americans every day. This cumulative stress can be very harmful to your health and can be lessened by initiating a plan. Get professional help and learn how to downsize and reevaluate your real needs…less toys with less stress for a longer life!  
  8. Try Something New
    • There may be no one thing more important to gaining a new perspective on life that to have learned something new. It could be as drastic as returning to school to prepare for a career change or as simple as learning to play bridge. Have you vowed to make this year the year to learn something new? Take a course at local college or read a new book. Visit the Everhart Museum or take the free tour of the Scranton Cultural Center. It will enrich your life and make you a more interesting person. Most local colleges and universities offer distance and adult education programs.
  9. Service To Others
    • Service to others is service to you! There may not be anything more gratifying than providing a service to others in need. Volunteerism makes you a better and healthier person. It fits into any schedule. Donate clothes, time or resources. Locally, we have many charitable causes in need of help: Be a “Friend of the Poor,” or serve lunch at St. Frances Soup Kitchen.
  10. Get Organized
    • The goal of organization, like the goal of financial order, has similar health implications because it eliminates tremendous stress. There are many books and websites that offer suggestions on how to organize just about anything in your life. For this reason, I love my iPhone – there’s an App for that!

SOURCE: A. Powell, About.com Guide

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, visit our exercise forum!

Every December, as we finish the last of the leftover turkey, patients begin to talk about the holiday season and gift shopping. This conversation invariably leads to suggestions for gift ideas related to health, exercise and fitness. The suggestions below offer a wide variety of fitness related gifts, some expensive and frivolous and others reasonably priced and practical. I hope it makes your shopping a little easier. 

1. Dry Tech Exercise Clothing

Dry Tech is the best thing that has happened to exercise apparel since “jogging suit” was donned by all the “cool dudes” in the 70’s and 80’s . It is has great style and even better function. The specially made material is light weight and breathable and wicks moisture from the skin to the outer layers. Therefore, it will not get heavy with sweat which can weigh you down and cause friction with your skin which can lead to chaffing and blisters. The following exercise apparel is now available in Dry Tech:

NOTE: Shoes are a very important aspect to safe and comfortable exercise but are unique for running and other specific sports (tennis, basketball). Sneakers may be too difficult to buy for someone else. A gift certificate to an athletic shoe store (Scranton Running or Dick’s) may be a better choice.

2. Trekking Poles

For walking and hiking enthusiasts, trekking poles can be the perfect gift, especially for those over 50 and when on uneven terrain or inclement weather. The research is compelling…less stress on the lower back, hip, knee and ankle, as well as improved balance and safety. Leki, Black Diamond, and Trekology are good name brands while LL Bean and REI are reputable companies.

3. Exercise Mat

An exercise mat is helpful if you decide to exercise at home. Also, a required equipment for participating in yoga or Pilates classes is a mat.

4. Hand-Held Dumbbells and Sandbag Leg Weights

These are essential for those interested in home exercise. For the average beginner, 3-5-8-10 pound (two of each) weights will be adequate.  Dumbbells are good for shrugs, biceps, and triceps, bent over rows and lats, and lunges. Incremented and stackable dumbbells are also available by Bowflex SelecTech 552 (5-52 pounds for $299). and NordicTrack $189. Sandbags, which can be purchased as graduated weights from 1 to 5 pounds, are good for leg extensions, hamstring curls, hip hikes and hip abduction.  

5. Resistance Bands

These cheap and versatile bands are also essential for a home program. The bands come in different colors to represent the amount of resistance with yellow being the easiest and black the most difficult. They are useful for upper and lower body. For specific band exercises visit a previous column in “Health & Exercise Forum” at The Times Tribune or www.mackareyphysicaltherapy.com

6. Aerobic Equipment

NOTE:  Peloton, NordicTrack, SoulCycle are some of the companies that offer interactive exercise programs (usually through an internet subscription) for aerobic exercise using bikes, treadmills, ellipticals or rowing machines.

7. Fitness Club Membership
8. Personal Trainer Gift Certificate or Home Virtual Trainers

This can be an opportunity for someone to either get the proper advice from a professional to begin a fitness program or to revamp and tune up an old stale program. Word of mouth is a good way to find a reputable certified trainer.

Peloton – ($2,495 bike, $3,495 treadmill); Mirror Exercise – ($1,495); Tonal ($3,995.) FightCamp – ($1,219.); Forme Studio ($2,495.)

9. Electronic Fitness Monitors or Wearable Tech Monitor

These devices use GPS technology to help the user track their activity to get more out of their exercise routines. They monitor activity, heart rate, distance, location, calories, and more. Some examples are:

10. Nutritional Counselor Gift Certificate

Sometimes you need professional help to get started and stay focused. Just as with a personal trainer, a qualified and licensed nutritional counselor will assist you in establishing a safe and effective program to meet your nutritional and dietary goals. Again, ask around to see who has a good reputation or who may be a good fit for the recipient of your gift.

These gifts can be purchased at most local sporting goods stores or on-line.

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times" - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice, located in Scranton and Clarks Summit, and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM. For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles, check out our exercise forum!

Fall is here, cross-country running season has begun and the 26th Steamtown Marathon is only a few weeks away! With that in mind, running injuries, some very specific to women, are on the increase…

While driving to or from work have you noticed more local running enthusiasts in the past few years? Moreover, have your noticed that most of the runners are women? Scranton Running Company has contributed to NEPA’s participation in a national trend; more women are engaged in running than men! Female runners account for 9.7 million runners (57%) while 7 million males run on a national level.

With this surge, the female runner has been subjected to a host of related injuries, including shin splints, which often lead to stress fractures. New research has found that stress fractures may be related to the loss of weight and body mass associated with the sport.

A recent study from Ohio State University found that female runners with a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 19 may have a higher risk of developing stress fractures than women with a BMI of 19 or above. Furthermore, the study also found that these women took longer to recover from these injuries.

According to Timothy Miller, MD, “When body mass index is very low and muscle mass is depleted, there is nowhere for the shock of running to be absorbed other than directly into the bones. Until some muscle mass is developed and BMI is optimized, runners remain at increased risk of developing a stress fracture,”

The study also found that female runners with a BMI of 19 or higher with severe stress fractures required 13 weeks to recover from their injuries and return to running. Runners with a BMI lower than 19, however, took more than 17 weeks to recover.

They concluded that women should know their BMI and consult with a medical professional to maintain a healthy number. Additionally, women should cross-train and include resistance training to improve the strength and muscle mass of the lower extremities to prevent injury.

The current BMI wisdom, according to the National Institutes of Health, is 19.8 for men and 24 for women, however, strong and competitive women tend to have a BMI of 26. A BMI of 18 is considered malnourished.

What is BMI?

Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight of adult men and women over 20 years of age, according to the National Institutes of Health.

BMI = (weight in pounds / height in inches squared) X 703)

Example 1: a person who weighs150 pounds and is 68 inches (5 feet 8 inches) tall has a BMI of 22.8

Example 2: a person who weighs 110 pounds and is 66 inches (5 feet 5 inches) tall has a BMI of 17.7

Underweight      < 18.5%

Normal weight      18.5 to 24.9%

Overweight      25 to 29.9%

Obesity            30 and over

What is a stress fracture?

A stress fracture is fatigue damage to bone with partial or complete disruption of the cortex of the bone from repetitive loading. While standard x-rays may not reveal the problem, a bone scan, and MRI will. It usually occurs in the long bones of the leg, mostly the tibia (shin bone) but also the femur (thigh) and foot. Occasionally, it occurs in the arm.

Who is at risk for stress fractures?

FEMALE RUNNERS WITH BMI LOWER THAN 19 – is a primary risk factor.

10-21% of all competitive athletes are at risk for stress fractures. Track, cross country and military recruits are at greatest risk. Females are twice as likely as males to have a stress fracture. Other athletes at risk are: sprinters, soccer and basketball players, jumpers, ballet dancers are at risk in the leg and foot. Gymnasts are also vulnerable in the spine while rowers, baseball pitchers, golfers and tennis players can experience the fracture with much less frequency in the ribs & arm.           

The problem is much more prevalent in weight bearing repetitive, loading sports in which leanness is emphasized (ballet, cheerleading) or provides an advantage (distance running, gymnastics).

Stress fractures usually begin with a manageable, poorly localized pain with or immediately after activity such as a shin splint. Over time, pain becomes more localized and tender during activity and then progresses to pain with daily activity and at rest.

Other Causes of Stress Fractures

Prevention & Treatment

Source: Ohio State University, Science Daily

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” via Blog

EVERY SUNDAY in "The Sunday Times - Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” in hard copy!

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Paul's Articles, visit our exercise forum!

Fall in NEPA is one of my favorite times of year. For outdoor enthusiasts, there is nothing more refreshing than activities in the bright sunshine and crisp, clean air. The hot humid summer weather can be a deterrent to outdoor activities and this time of year provides an opportunity to get fit by beginning a walking program. For many who have not maintained an active lifestyle or have health issues, it is challenging to know where to begin. Moreover, beginning without a good plan can lead to injury and leave you discouraged. For example, those overweight and de-conditioned should not start a walking program too aggressively. Walking at a fast pace and long distance without gradually weaning into it will most likely lead to problems.

WALKING FOR HEALTH

There is probably nothing more natural to human beings than walking. Ever since Australopithecus, an early hominin (human ancestor) who evolved in Southern and Eastern Africa between 4 and 2 million years ago, that our ancestors took their first steps as committed bipeds. With free hands, humans advanced in hunting, gathering, making tools etc. while modern man uses walking as, not only a form of locomotion, but also as a form of exercise and fitness. It is natural, easy and free...no equipment or fitness club membership required!

BENEFITS OF WALKING

“There’s no question that increasing exercise, even moderately, reduces the risks of many diseases, including coronary heart disease, breast and colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Jennifer Joyce, MD, professor of family medicine at GCSOM. “Research has even shown that you could gain two hours of life for each hour that you exercise regularly.” According to the American Heart Association, walking as little as 30 minutes a day can provide the following benefits:

PLAN AHEAD

SET REALISTIC GOALS

Anything is better than nothing! However, for most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Also aim to do strength training exercises of all major muscle groups at least two times a week.

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you can't set aside that much time, try several short sessions of activity throughout the day (3 ten or 2 fifteen minute sessions). Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefit.

Remember it's OK to start slowly — especially if you haven't been exercising regularly. You might start with five minutes a day the first week, and then increase your time by five minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes.

For even more health benefits, aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Once you are ready for a challenge, add hills, increase speed and distance.

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration. Record these numbers in a walking journal or log them in a spreadsheet or a physical activity app. Another option is to use an electronic device such as a smart watch, pedometer or fitness tracker to calculate steps and distance.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Make walking part of your daily routine. Pick a time that works best for you. Some prefer early morning, others lunchtime or after work. Enter it in your smart phone with a reminder and get to it!

FIND A WALKING PARTNER

 Studies show that compliance with an exercise program is significantly improved when an exercise buddy is part of the equation. It is hard to let someone down or break plans when you commit to someone. Keep in mind that your exercise buddy can also include your dog!

USE EFFICIENT WALKING TECHNIQUE

Like everything, there is a right way of doing something, even walking. For efficiency and safety, walking with proper stride is important. A fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here's how you'll look when you're walking:

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

Sources : Sapiens.org; WebMD; Mayo Clinic 

NEXT MONDAY BLOG and in print in THE SUNDAY TIMES TRIBUNE – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. For all of Dr. Paul Mackarey's articles, check out our exercise forum!

We are more than one month into the New Year and many people are still talking about their health and fitness goals. As you probably know, losing weight and getting fit are the most popular resolutions, however, for many who have not maintained an active lifestyle in years, it is challenging to know where to begin. Moreover, beginning without a good plan can lead to injury and leave you discouraged. For example, those overweight and de-conditioned should not start a walking program to aggressively. Walking at a fast pace and long distance without gradually weaning into it will most likely lead to problems.

WALKING FOR HEALTH

There is probably nothing more natural to human beings than walking. Ever since Australopithecus, an early hominin (human ancestor) who evolved in Southern and Eastern Africa between 4 and 2 million years ago, that our ancestors took their first steps as committed bipeds. With free hands, humans advanced in hunting, gathering, making tools etc. while modern man uses walking as, not only a form of locomotion, but also as a form of exercise and fitness. It is natural, easy and free...no equipment or fitness club membership required!

BENEFITS OF WALKING

“There’s no question that increasing exercise, even moderately, reduces the risks of many diseases, including coronary heart disease, breast and colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Jennifer Joyce, MD, professor of family medicine at GCSOM. “Research has even shown that you could gain two hours of life for each hour that you exercise regularly.”

According to the American Heart Association, walking as little as 30 minutes a day can provide the following benefits:

PLAN AHEAD

SET REALISTIC GOALS

Anything is better than nothing! However, for most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity. The guidelines suggest that you spread out this exercise during the course of a week. Also aim to do strength training exercises of all major muscle groups at least two times a week.

As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. If you can't set aside that much time, try several short sessions of activity throughout the day (3 ten or 2 fifteen minute sessions). Even small amounts of physical activity are helpful, and accumulated activity throughout the day adds up to provide health benefit.

Remember it's OK to start slowly — especially if you haven't been exercising regularly. You might start with five minutes a day the first week, and then increase your time by five minutes each week until you reach at least 30 minutes.

For even more health benefits, aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Once you are ready for a challenge, add hills, increase speed and distance.

TRACK YOUR PROGRESS

Keeping a record of how many steps you take, the distance you walk and how long it takes can help you see where you started from and serve as a source of inspiration. Record these numbers in a walking journal or log them in a spreadsheet or a physical activity app. Another option is to use an electronic device such as a smart watch, pedometer or fitness tracker to calculate steps and distance.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Make walking part of your daily routine. Pick a time that works best for you. Some prefer early morning, others lunchtime or after work. Enter it in your smart phone with a reminder and get to it!

FIND A WALKING PARTNER

Studies show that compliance with an exercise program is significantly improved when an exercise buddy is part of the equation. It is hard to let someone down or break plans when you commit to someone. Keep in mind that your exercise buddy can also include your dog!

USE EFFICIENT WALKING TECHNIQUE

Like everything, there is a right way of doing something, even walking. For efficiency and safety, walking with proper stride is important. A fitness stride requires good posture and purposeful movements. Ideally, here's how you'll look when you're walking:

Sources : Sapiens.org; WebMD; Mayo Clinic

* Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”  

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles: Visit our Healthcare Forum!

Dry Tech Exercise Clothing

Dry Tech is the best thing that has happened to exercise apparel since “jogging suit” was donned by all the “cool dudes” in the 70’s and 80’s . It is has great style and even better function. The specially made material is light weight and breathable and wicks moisture from the skin to the outer layers. Therefore, it will not get heavy with sweat which can weigh you down and cause friction with your skin which can lead to chaffing and blisters. The following exercise apparel is now available in Dry Tech:

Exercise Mat

An exercise mat is helpful if you decide to exercise at home. Also, if you participate in yoga or Pilates classes, a mat is required equipment.

Hand Held Dumbbells and Sandbag Leg Weights

These are essential for those interested in home exercise. For the average beginner, 3-5-8-10 pound (two of each) weights will be adequate.  Dumbbells are good for shrugs, biceps, and triceps, bent over rows and lats, and lunges. Incremented and stackable dumbbells are also available by Bowflex SelecTech 552 (5-52 pounds for $299). and NordicTrack $189. Sandbags, which can be purchased as graduated weights from 1 to 5 pounds, are good for leg extensions, hamstring curls, hip hikes and hip abduction.  

Resistance Bands

These cheap and versatile bands are also essential for a home program. The bands come in different colors to represent the amount of resistance with yellow being the easiest and black the most difficult. They can be used for upper and lower body. For specific band exercises visit a previous column in “Health & Exercise Forum” at The Times Tribune or www.mackareyphysicaltherapy.com

Aerobic Equipment

Fitness Club Membership

Personal Trainer Gift Certificate or Home Virtual Trainers

This can be an opportunity for someone to either get the proper advice from a professional to begin a fitness program or to revamp and tune up an old stale program. Word of mouth is a good way to find a reputable certified trainer.

Peloton – ($1,495 bike, $2,495 treadmill); Mirror Exercise – ($995); FightCamp – ($1,219.)

Electronic Fitness Monitors or Wearable Tech Monitor

These devices use GPS technology to help the user track their activity to get more out of their exercise routines. They monitor activity, heart rate, distance, location, calories, and more. Some examples are:

Weight Loss and Activity Monitoring Apps

Note: Basic Apps are free and more advanced versions are under $10.

Nutritional Counselor Gift Certificate

Sometimes you need professional help to get started and stay focused. Just as with a personal trainer, a qualified and licensed nutritional counselor will assist you in establishing a safe and effective program to meet your nutritional and dietary goals. Again, ask around to see who has a good reputation or who may be a good fit for the recipient of your gift.

These gifts can be purchased at most local sporting goods stores or on-line.

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!”

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com

Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.

For all of Dr. Mackarey's articles visit: mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum

According to the New York Times, there is a shortage and backorder of bicycles this summer due to COVID-19, especially in the cities where public transportation is discouraged. Fortunately, in NEPA, the problem is not so extreme. For those who have a bike, now might be a good time to dust them off and enjoy the many beautiful and well-maintained trails are available at the Countryside Conservancy at Lackawanna State Park, other locations in the Abingtons or the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority.

WHY BIKE?

There are many obvious reasons to bike…cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, improve leg strength and others. But, the real question is, “what are the advantages of biking over other forms of exercise?” Glad you asked…

BENEFITS OF BIKING

  1. INEXPENSIVE – while not as cheap as running, biking can be much cheaper than other sports. Starter bikes can be less expensive than high end running shoes.
  2. EASY – most people can learn to ride a bike. Kids begin with training wheels and adult tricycles are available.
  3. FAMILY FUN – something the whole family can enjoy in your neighborhood, at the beach or on one of the trails.
  4. PRACTICAL EXERCISE – it is an opportunity to exercise while traveling to work, store, lunch etc…bike it!
  5. CARDIOVASCULAR FITNESS – good for the heart and all that goes with it: burns calories, lowers blood pressure, lowers LDL, and elevates HDL and boosts the immune system.
  6. LEG STRENGTH – pedaling a bike is a great way to improve leg strength.
  7. CORE STRENGTH – core muscles of the neck, middle and lower back and the associated arm strength will improve while biking in order to maintain your torso on a bike on hills and turns.
  8. IMPROVES BALANCE/COORDINATION/FALLS PREVENTION – riding a bike requires some balance and coordination and therefore will improve balance as a form of falls prevention.
  9. GOOD FOR YOUR JOINTS – bike riding only requires partial weight bearing to the spine and lower body joints so it is more comfortable and gentle to your joints than walking or running. For this reason, it is often recommended to pregnant women suffering from leg or lower back pain as a safe alternative to running.   
  10. MENTAL WELLNESS – biking, like all aerobic exercise, is a great source of stress management as it releases endorphins and serotonin which improves mental health. With the added feature of being outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air, biking keeps you smiling!

INJURY MANAGEMENT:

Prevention is the best management of musculoskeletal problems associated with biking. First, many of the problems associated with biking such as knee pain, buttock soreness, and tendonitis can be prevented through proper fitting. Furthermore, it is important that your equipment be in good working order such as tires, chain, brakes and pedals. Next, be sure to maintain a fairly good fitness level in order to bike safely. If you are a beginner, start slowly. Warm up and slowly bike for 10 to 15 minutes and build up over time. Practice the coordination of stopping, starting, shifting and braking. Work on good strength and flexibility of the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and gluteal muscles. All of these muscles are necessary to generate pedal force. Balance is also important to safety and can be practiced on and off the bike. Be aware that adaptive equipment can modify your bike for added comfort and safety such as soft handlebar tape, seat post and front fork shock absorbers, padded biking shorts, c-out and gel pad saddle seats, and wider tires.

Be careful not to progress too quickly because inactivity to over activity in a short period of time can create problems. Overuse injuries such as tendonitis, can be avoided by cross training. Bike every other day and walk, run or swim on off days. Make sure to take time off to recover after a long ride. Use ice and massage to sore muscles and joints after riding.

Remember, cycling should be fun! Pain from improperly fitted and poorly maintained equipment is preventable. Excessive workouts and training rides should be kept to a minimum and consider cross-training in between.  

SAFETY

EQUIPMENT: Helmets are a must! Also, keep your bike in good condition. Road bikes should have mirrors and reflectors. Use hand signals and obey traffic rules. Dress for weather and visibility. Have a first aid and tire patch kit, tire pump and tools. Seat comfort can be improved with gel cushion or split seat.

BE ALERT: for traffic, parked cars, pedestrians loose gravel and cracks in the road. 

SOURCES: American Physical Therapy Association

Visit your doctor regularly and listen to your body.     

Keep moving, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly

EVERY MONDAY – Read Dr. Paul J. Mackarey “Health & Exercise Forum!” at https://mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/forum/ or visit our website at https://mackareyphysicaltherapy.com/

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. If you have questions related to your medical condition, please contact your family physician. For further inquires related to this topic email: drpmackarey@msn.com Paul J. Mackarey PT, DHSc, OCS is a Doctor in Health Sciences specializing in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy. Dr. Mackarey is in private practice in downtown Scranton and is an associate professor of clinical medicine at GCSOM.