Questions to Ask Before Beginning an Exercise Regimen
While exercise in moderation improves both physical and psychological health, there are a few questions that you should ask yourself before beginning any exercise program:
Safety and Exercise
Safety is an important concern for anyone, especially women, in the Hyde Park and Greater Chicago area. This applies to exercise as well. See Chapter 12 on protecting yourself at the U of C.
Easy Ways to Increase Your Level of Activity
There are many ways to increase your overall level of activity without radically changing your routines.
General Components of Every Exercise Program
Calories and Exercise
This chart shows the approximate calories burned by a 150 pound woman. If you weigh less, you will burn fewer calories; if you weight more, you will burn more.
Results from a fitness program are not instantaneous. If you start to exercise three times a week for thirty minutes and do toning exercises twice a week for twenty minutes, you can expect the following results. Keep in mind these vary with the individual and your levelof fitness to begin with:
After 1 month:
After 2 months:
After 3 months:
Each machine is equipped with instructions that tell the user exactly how to use it. Before you sit down and use a machine, even if it looks very simple or obvious, READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! Be aware that the seats are adjustable. Familiarize yourself with the knobs that are used to adjust the seat (they are usually located behind the seat. If the machine has a safety belt, be sure to secure it around your waist before you begin the exercise.
People with little or no experience in weight-lifting should take a weight-lifting class. The University of Chicago Physical Education Department offers a weight-lifting class every quarter. Weight training orientations are also available through the facilities office a few times a quarter.
Weight machines are much easier to start on than free weights, as they provide support and controlled motion but if you do wish to use free weights, make sure you have training in the proper way to use them. Consider taking a friend along as a spotter to make sure you do not injure yourself due to excessive strain or by a falling weight, and use a weight belt to prevent back injury.
The Three Basic Movements
The Lift: This involves the actually pushing up or out of the weight. It should be done in a smooth, controlled manner. Jerking weights can cause injury.
The Hold: Once you have lifted the weight, you will want to hold it briefly at the outermost position. Do not lock your joints, as this can be damaging.
The Release: The release occurs when you put the weight down. This should be done slowly to maximize the use of the muscles involved. You should NEVER allow the weight to slam. A smooth, controlled motion is necessary to avoid injury and to gain the maximum potential from the exercise.
Start on the lowest setting, even if it seems ridiculously easy. This will allow you to perfect the motion. (Push out, hold for two counts, bring slowly back on a five count.) When you are at the weight room, you will see people who whip through ten repetitions (reps) in ten seconds. This is NOT the way to lift! Not only does it increase the potential for injury, but the motion actually has less effect on the muscle. If you really want to build up your muscle mass, slow and smooth reps are the best way to go. When you feel that you have perfected a motion, pick a setting that is challenging but not too stressful. Begin with a small number of reps, such as ten. Do three to five sets of ten. You can make the workout more challenging by increasing the weight, the number of reps, or the number of sets. Generally, less reps of heavier weights build bulk (think football players and other strength athletes) and more reps of lighter weights tone muscles (what the average non-athlete is generally working towards).
Stop if you feel pain. "No pain, no gain" is not a good maxim for weight-lifting. Your body is telling you to stop for a reason. It is a good idea to keep a record of how many reps you did, at what weight and on which machine. This allows you to see your progress over time. It also enables you to see which machines you need to use more often, allowing you to pinpoint muscles that need more time or work. Above all, don't be embarrassed about using the machines or asking someone how to use them.
You have to fit into that dress, but your stomach is just a bit too large. So you figure you'll just do 500 sit-ups every day for the next week, right? Wrong. Spot reducing, meaning the attempt to reduce fat in one area without a regular diet and exercise program, simply does not work. The only way to reduce fat in a particular area is to combine a sensible diet with a regular program of aerobic exercise.
Some Fitness Pitfalls
Menstruation and Exercise Disorders
Exercise Bulimia/Compulsive Exercise
If you feel you are suffering from Exercise Bulimia or compulsive exercise, it is a good idea to seek the help of a medical or mental health professional. The Student Care Center (SCC) and the Student Counseling Resource Center (SCRC) are available for students through the annual health fee. Please see Chapter 1 for more details.
Protecting Your Body During Exercise
There is very little anatomical support for the breasts other than the skin covering. For this reason, it is extremely important to ensure that your breasts are properly supported during your workout, regardless of your breast size. The ideal sports bra should prevent all or most motion of the breast by uplifting, binding, or compressing the breasts. Other characteristics of a good sports bra include:
Other Articles of Clothing to Keep in Mind
Shoes: The proper footwear is integral to cushion and support the feet and ankles during any exercise which applies stress to these areas. Different types of activity require different kinds of shoes; i.e. a shoe made exclusivly for running is not suited for all other activities. A sales person at an athletic shoe store can usually help you to determine what kind of shoe is best suited to your activities. It is important to replace your shoes on a regular basis to reduce the risk of injury. Also, be sure that the soles of the shoes will also provide adequate grip on the floor or exercise machines to deter falling or slipping.
Socks: Athletic socks will provide added cushioning and support for the feet as well as absorb the sweat produced during exercise, which will add to your overall comfort.
Clothing: Sportswear that is advertised to be trendy or cute is not necessarily the best clothing to wear during exercise. Many times such clothing does not provide the proper support to prevent injury or enough ventilation for comfort, so be weary of this when deciding on apparel for exercising.
Other articles of clothes that are useful are headbands, 100% cotton t-shirts, sweatshirts and shorts which absorb sweat produced during exercise.
Exercise and Pregnancy
For more information of pregnancy in general, see Chapter 6.
*If you suspect you may have a sports injury, be sure to seek the help of a doctor!*
Finger Sprains, a.k.a. "jammed fingers"
Exercise on Campus
Classes are offered in four main subject areas: Aquatics, Personal Fitness, Physical Recreation Activity and Sports, and Health and Safety. Click here for a complete listing and description of courses offered.
Club SportsClub sports are also available for students who wish to join a particular sport that is not offered intercollegiatly. Some are instructional, competitive or both. All are student-run.
Women’s Varsity sports:
Henry Crown Field House: basketball courts, handball, racquetball, and squash courts, indoor track, weight training/fitness development machines, and a multi-purpose room
Bartlett and Ida Noyes Hall: multi-purpose dance studios
Reservations must be made to use the badminton, squash, racquetball, handball courts by calling 753-4949. The dance room must also be reserved, and these reservations can be made at Ida Noyes Hall, or by calling 773-702-3418.
Equipment rental (rackets, balls, nets, etc.) can be done at Ratner or at Henry Crown, depending on the equipment needed. Longer-term, larger orders can be rented through the Intramural Office.
The University of Chicago Department of Physical Education and Athletics provides a variety of non-credit fitness classes every quarter, including summer.
Other Hyde Park and Chicago Fitness Opportunities
City of Chicago Bicycle Page
Alchemy Yoga and Wellness Center
Bally Sports Club
Three Pillars Wellness Center
Chicago Race for the Cure