Frequently Asked Exercise Questions

Should I just jump right in and start exercising?

No. First check with your doctor before starting any physical activity, especially if you:

  • Are over 35
  • Have been inactive for a long period of time
  • Have a history of smoking
  • Have any past/current medical condition

What are warning signs I should look out for while exercising?

You should immediately stop exercising if you feel:

  • Unusual chest pain, pain in your left or mid-chest area, left neck, shoulder, or arm during or just after exercise
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness or confusion

What are the components of an exercise program?

  1. Warm up
  2. Light stretching or mobility work
  3. Exercise (cardio/strength training)
  4. Cool down
  5. Light stretching or mobility work again

*Warm-up and cool down should be 5 to 10 minutes in duration to help minimize injury

How often should I exercise?

According to the American College of Sports Medicine position stand, “Appropriate Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Regain for Adults,” a minimum amount of 2.5 hours per week of physical activity at a moderate intensity can have “significant health benefits.”


Do moderate intensity cardio 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week


Do vigorous intensity cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days per week


Do 8 to 10 strength training exercises, 8 to 12 repetitions twice a week

How can I measure my progress?

  • Body measurements: Measure your hips, waist, arms, and thigh. As you lose body fat these measurements will decrease gradually.
  • Resting heart rate: A stronger, more efficient heart will have a lower resting heart rate.
  • Clothes and jewelry: If you are trying to lose body fat, you may notice looseness in your clothing or in jewelry such as watches or rings.
  • Weight: Unfortunately, this seems to be the last thing we can rely on. We may only notice a decrease in weight after seeing other improvements in our body.

I am a woman and I want to start strength training. Will I get big, bulky muscles from lifting weights?

No, if you start strength training you will not get big, bulky muscle. When lifting weights you will get stronger and build muscle. You will start seeing benefits immediately.

Some benefits of strength training include:

  • Increasing your muscle mass (muscle burns more calories than fat).
  • Resistance exercises, such as free weights, weight machines or resistance bands can affect bone mass, which can help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Strength training plays a role in disease prevention. For the 14 million Americans with Type 2 diabetes, strength training along with other healthy lifestyle changes can help improve glucose control.
  • Strength training boosts energy levels and improves your mood.

Is exercise really that important to lose weight?

It is a fact: You have to burn more calories than you eat and drink to lose weight. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), for weight loss what really matters is cutting back on the calories that you eat and drink. However, exercise pays off in the long run by keeping the pounds off. Research shows that getting regular physical activity is “the only way to maintain weight loss.”

How do I lose the fat around my belly, arms, or legs?

It is important to keep in mind that although muscle building is site-specific, fat loss is not. Performing exercises that target a certain region of the body do not cause fat to burn away in that particular area. For example, doing tons of abdominal exercises does not lead to fat loss in the abdominal region.

If you want to burn fat, do the following things:

  1. Eat a caloric deficit so you lose weight.
  2. Consume a well-balanced diet with ample protein and whole foods.
  3. Lift weights and get stronger so that you retain a greater proportion of muscle as you lose weight and lose a greater proportion of fat as you lose weight.
  4. Perform activities that increase your metabolic rate so that you expend more calories and achieve a greater caloric deficit. (Example: high to moderate intensity interval training with kettlebells, the rowing machine or treadmill.)
  5. Move around more.

If you had no equipment what three exercises would you choose and why?

  1. Squats

    One of the best exercises is also one of the most natural (just watch a baby sit). This movement works all of the muscles in the lower body including the quads, glutes and hamstrings. It also provides an extra kick for the core as you need your deep abdominal muscles and back to perform this exercise correctly.

  2. Pushups

    This is one of the best upper body exercises because it works everything from your chest to your back, your arms and even your abs. Make sure your shoulders line up with your wrists and you tuck your elbows towards your sides (and don't flare out your elbows wide). Try to get your chest and hips as close to the floor as possible without touching.

  3. Planks

    According to the American Council on Exercise, the plank exercise is one of the top ten abdominal exercises. This exercise is a great way to flatten your stomach, strengthen your core and improve the endurance of your back and stomach muscles. By strengthening your core, you will strengthen your hips and pelvic floor. Having a strong core, stomach and back muscles will lead to improved posture and may help prevent injuries.