Introduction: What This Book Is (and Isn’t) 1

1: Getting Started


How long does it take to get in shape? 6 Am I exercising enough? 8 Which should I do first: cardio or weights? 10 Can I get fit in seven minutes a week? 12 Can exercise increase my risk of a heart attack? 15 Will exercising in cold air freeze my lungs? 16 When is it too hot to exercise? 19 Should I avoid exercising outside when air pollution is high? 20 How will exercise affect my immune system? 23 Is motivation to exercise genetic? 25 How long does it take to get unfit? 27

2: Fitness Gear 31
Is running on a treadmill better or worse than running outside? 31 Is the elliptical machine just as good as running? 34 Do I really need specialized shoes for walking, running, tennis, basketball, and so on? 36 Will running barefoot help me avoid injuries? 38 Will compression clothing help me exercise? 40 Does walking with poles give me a better workout? 42 Are sports video games real workouts? 44 What should I do with wobble boards and exercise balls? 46 Can a mouthpiece make me stronger, faster, and more flexible? 48 Is there any benefit to strengthening my breathing muscles? 51

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3: The Physiology of Exercise 56
What role does my brain play in fatigue? 57 Does lactic acid cause muscle fatigue? 59 Why do I get sore a day or two after hard exercise? 61 What is “VO2max” and should I have mine tested? 63 What is “lactate threshold” and should I have mine tested? 66 How can I avoid muscle cramps? 68 What’s happening when I get a stitch? 70 At what time of day am I strongest and fastest? 72

4: Aerobic Exercise 78
Why should I do cardio if I just want to build my muscles? 76 How hard should my cardio workout feel? 79 How do I determine my maximum heart rate? 81 What’s the best way to breathe during exercise? 83 Will running on hard surfaces increase my risk of injuries? 85 Do I run “wrong”? 88 What’s the best way to run up and down hills? 90 Does pumping my arms make me run faster? 92 Do spinning classes offer any benefits that I can’t get from biking on my own? 94 Will taking the stairs make a real difference to my health? 95

5: Strength and Power 99
Do I need strength training if I just want to be lean and fit? 100 How much weight should I lift, and how many times? 101 How do I tone my muscles without bulking up? 103 What’s the difference between strength and power? 106 Free weights or machines: what’s the difference, and which should I use? 107 Can body-weight exercises like push-ups and sit-ups be as effective as lifting weights? 110 Can lifting weights fix my lower-back pain? 113 Will I get a better workout if I hire a personal trainer? 115 Do I need extra protein to build muscle? 117

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6: Flexibility and Core Strength 121
Will stretching help me avoid injuries? 121 Could stretching before exercise make me slower and weaker? 124 Do flexible runners run more efficiently? 126 How should I warm up before exercise? 128 Will stretching after exercise help me avoid next-day soreness? 131 Where is my “core,” and do I need to strengthen it? 133 What are the benefits of yoga for physical fitness? 136 What are the benefits of yoga for overall wellness? 137

7: Injuries and Recovery 141
Ouch, I think I sprained something. How long should I stay off it? 141 Will a post-exercise ice bath help me recover more quickly? 145 Will a heat pack or hot bath soothe my aching body? 147 Will massage help me avoid soreness and recover more quickly from workouts? 149 Should I take painkillers for post-workout soreness? 151 How long does it take to recover after a marathon or other long, intense effort? 153 Can “platelet-rich plasma” cure my tennis elbow or Achilles tendon? 155 How can I reduce my risk of stress fractures? 157 Should I exercise when I’m sick? 159 Will having a few drinks affect my workout the next day? 160

8: Exercise and Aging 164
What’s the cumulative effect of all the exercise I’ve done over the years? 164 Will running ruin my knees? 167 How should I adapt my workout routine as I get older? 169 How quickly will my performance decline as I age? 171

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How can I stay motivated to exercise as my performances decline? 173 What are the pros and cons of exercising in water? 175 What type of exercise is best for maintaining strong bones? 177 Can exercise keep my dna from aging? 180

9: Weight Management 183
Is it possible to be fat and healthy at the same time? 183 Is weight loss simply the difference between “calories in” and “calories out?” 186 To lose weight, is it better to eat less or exercise more? 188 How can I take advantage of the “fat-burning” zone? 190 Won’t exercise make me eat more and gain weight? 192 Can I lose weight while gaining (or maintaining) muscle? 194 Is lifting weights better than cardio for weight loss? 196 Will I burn more calories commuting by bike or on foot? 198 Can I control hunger by manipulating my appetite hormones? 201 Will sitting too long at work counteract all my fitness gains? 202

10: Nutrition and Hydration 206
Should I carbo-load by eating pasta the night before a competition? 206 What should I eat to avoid stomach problems during exercise? 208 What should I eat and drink to refuel after working out? 211 How much should I drink to avoid dehydration during exercise? 213 Is it possible to hydrate too much? 215 What ingredients do I really need in a sports drink? 217 Will taking antioxidant vitamins block the health benefits of exercise? 220 Should I be taking probiotics? 222 Will vitamin D make me a better athlete? 224

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Is there any benefit to deliberately training with low energy stores? 226 Can I get the nutrients I need for a heavy exercise regimen from a vegetarian or vegan diet? 228

11: Mind and Body 232
If my brain is tired, will my body’s performance suffer? 232 Does it matter what I’m thinking about when I train? 234 Does listening to music or watching tv help or hurt my workout? 237 Will I perform better under pressure if I focus harder? 239 Can swearing help me push harder in a workout? 241 Is there such a thing as “runner’s high”? 243 Will taking a fitness class or joining a team change my brain chemistry during workouts? 245 What are the effects of exercise on the brain? 247

12: The Competitive Edge 251
How should I adjust my training in the final days before a competition? 251 Should I have sex the night before a competition? 254 Can drinking slushies boost my performance on hot days? 255 Will drinking coffee help or hinder my performance? 257 Does competing in front of a crowd improve performance? 259 How much sleep do I need for optimal physical performance? 261 How should I pace myself in a long-distance race? 263 Is endurance or sprint speed more important in field sports like soccer? 265 Conclusions: From Lab to Gym 268 Acknowledgments 271 References 273

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