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fitness Q&A Answers by Kelly James-Enger, ACE-certified personal trainer Q A I have a bad back that goes out easily. What exercises can I do? When people say they have a "bad back," the source is often weak lower back and abdominal muscles. Working to strengthen your core, the muscles that support and stabilize your spine, will reduce your risk of hurting it. In addition to doing cardiovascular, strengthening and stretching moves, make sure you include moves to target your core, such as bird dog: Start on your hands and knees, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips; keep your gaze at the floor. Extend your right arm in front of you, and then extend your left leg behind you. Hold for 3–5 seconds, and then return to the starting position. Bird dog Repeat on the other side, lifting and extending your left arm, and then extending your right leg. Start with 5 repetitions and work up to 15. Q A I recently began working with a trainer to build muscle. My clothes fit better, but my weight is creeping up. Should I quit the gym? First, congrats on making time for strength training. Based on your question, I'd say you've definitely added some muscle and reduced your overall body fat in the process—both of which are good things. That additional lean muscle not only makes you stronger and look trimmer, it also is more metabolically active than fat—meaning it raises your basal metabolic rate, so you burn more calories all the time. My opinion? The last thing you want to do is quit the gym. Instead, I'd suggest a quick visit with your doctor to re-evaluate your goal weight. A new, higher number that takes into account your new muscle will be easier for you to maintain. In the long run, more muscle is worth the higher number on the scale. n tops staff photo The information presented through this material is educational and should not substitute for the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare provider. The information may not suit an individual's particular health situation. Kelly James-Enger has been an ACEcertified personal trainer since 2007 and is the author of books including Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life (with Ellie Krieger, RD). She's also a successful "loser," having maintained a 45-pound weight loss for 25 years. HEALTHY & ACTIVE 2014 27

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