Designing an Aerobic Workout with Blanda Okamoto

By Blanda Okamoto
WebMD Live Events Transcript

Sports and Fitness Message Board Expert Blanda Okamoto, MSPT, joined us for a discussion about Aerobic Fitness.

An expert on the Sports and Fitness: Aerobic Fitness message board, Blanda Okamoto, MSPT, plays an invaluable role in helping people to design their own healthy aerobic workout program. Here are answers to many of the frequently asked questions that people have asked about aerobics.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

moderator Hello everyone and welcome!

Your guest this evening is Blanda Okamoto, MSPT

And tonight, we're talking about aerobics.


Blanda Okamoto Thank you for having me!

moderator It's certainly a pleasure to have you by, Ms. Okamoto

Blanda Okamoto I'm glad to be here!


moderator So, why don't you begin by telling us a bit about what you do.

Blanda Okamoto I am a physical therapist in Denver and I specialize in orthopedics.


moderator So, where should one begin, when building an aerobics program for themselves?

Blanda Okamoto First you need to find an activity that you enjoy and define your goals. Weight loss? Increased energy?


moderator How would one go about finding an activity?

Blanda Okamoto After defining your goals, Try a variety of activities that increase your heart rate. Do you enjoy walking, biking, dancing, running?

If you are not sure, then try a variety of different activities, maybe even at a gym with their different equipment, and see which ones you enjoy. Anything that gets your heart rate up in the target zone and uses large muscle groups for prolonged periods is considered aerobic.


moderator Is it necessary to join a club or gym?

Blanda Okamoto No, it is not. You can walk outside, bike outside, go dancing, rent exercise videos, purchase home equipment.


moderator What do you make of those exercise videos? Are they really useful?

Blanda Okamoto It depends. Some are not worth your time because the moves are too complicated to follow or last for only a short period of time. I recommend that you rent videos at the stores before purchasing them.


moderator Let's say I decide that I want to lose weight... I'm assuming that's why most people get into aerobics, for the most part.

Blanda Okamoto Is that your only goal?


moderator For the sake of argument, let's say it is.  What is a good activity to pursue?

Blanda Okamoto Any activity that increases you heart rate into the target zone and that you can do for a prolonged period of time, meaning 30-60 minutes. Examples are like what I described above such as walking, Stairmaster and the like. It need to be something you enjoy especially if your goal is to loose weight. The reason for this is that consistency is one of the biggest keys to loosing weight. If you choose an activity that you don't like, chances are you won't stick with it.


moderator Is it possible to actually gain weight by working out, when you trade fat for muscle?

Blanda Okamoto The answer is yes. Muscle does weigh more than fat. However, you will usually notice a difference in the way your clothes fit and will loose inches. That is a good sign of progress in the right direction.


moderator What other factors affect the success of an aerobic workout?

Blanda Okamoto Basically, you want to look at three factors - intensity, duration, frequency. The intensity needs to be high enough to get your heart rate up, but not too high that you cannot sustain the activity for 30 or more minutes. Also, the frequency needs to be regular at a minimum of three times per week. Other things can affect your success such as previous injuries or illness, altitude.


moderator How much should one plan to train at first?

Blanda Okamoto If you have never exercise before, you should plan on about 20 minutes of exercise at 60-85 percent of your maximum heart rate for three days per week. Take a day's rest between each exercise program.


moderator How do you determine your maximum heart rate?

Blanda Okamoto There are a couple of different ways, but the easiest way to predict an estimate is to take 220- your age. Then take that number and multiply it by 60 and 85 percent. These two numbers are the range of which your heart should beat per minute during exercise.


moderator Is it possible to target your workout to target specific areas of your body?

Blanda Okamoto Yes. And no. It is possible to target you workout to lower body, upper body or certain muscle groups to increase their strength, tone and endurance. However, it is not possible to strictly loose weight in one area by exercising in a particular fashion.


moderator How does one know if they're exercising hard enough to make a difference?  Can you just feel it?

Blanda Okamoto Intensity or "hard enough" is measured by your target heart rate in the range of 60-85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Anything below this and you will not receive the benefits of aerobic training. Also, there are several other ways of knowing whether or not you are making a difference. Have your percent body fat to lean mass measured. Have you lost weight? Do you feel more energetic? Can you lift more weight? Have a treadmill stress test done.


moderator How can one determine what their "proper" weight is supposed to be?

Blanda Okamoto A person's proper weight is quite individual. There are charts that show that norms of what a female or males weight should be for a certain height, however, these should not be the only way that you assess your health. If you are looking strictly at weight, ,look at those charts or have your percent body fat to lean muscle mass measured. That is a better, healthier way of determining your body composition.


moderator Can you determine your own body fat percentage?   Does it require special equipment?

Blanda Okamoto It does require special equipment. There is the calipers which pinch certain areas of your body to determine the amount of fat. There is also an under water test that can be done which is more accurate, but more expensive and harder to find. There are scales out there that supposedly tell you your percent body fat, but I don't believe they are accurate.


moderator When doing an exercise session, is it better to go all out, for as long as you can?

  ... or should you take breaks, and spread it out over time?

Blanda Okamoto When doing an aerobic exercise session, I believe it is better to do the activity for a sustained period of time. then perform a cool down period and then go to strength training. There is some research out there that states you can get the same benefit by breaking it down into smaller groups (ie. 10 minutes three times per day), but I question that.  I would recommend going all out to a point of exhaustion, but to fatigue. You may have muscle soreness that next day, but that shouldn't last longer than 48 hours. If it does, you are doing too much too fast. Also, you should NEVER exercise to a point of shortness of breath, chest pain, etc.


moderator What's the best way to warm up for a workout and cool down afterwards?

Blanda Okamoto I noticed a typo above. I would not recommend working to exhaustion, but instead to fatigue. The best way to warm up is by less intensity of the same activity for 3-5 minutes. For example, if you are going to go jogging, start by a fast walk for a minutes or two then a slower jog for the remaining warm up time. This increased the blood flow to your muscles and tendons to help prevent injury. Some also suggest stretching after your warm up and before your full fledged exercise. I like to stretch then warm up. A cool down should be for a minimum of two minutes up to 10 minutes. It needs to be long enough for your heart rate to come down to under 100 beats per minute.


moderator Well, ma'am... I just wanted to thank you for your time today.

Any closing thoughts you'd like to share?

Blanda Okamoto Before any exercise program, define your goals, do what you enjoy, and consult a professional, especially if you have never exercised before. Other than that, just keep movin'! The benefits of exercise have been proven and you will love the results! Thank you for your time! If you have any other questions, feel free to write me at the message board.


moderator Well... again, thank you very much

Blanda Okamoto Thank you.

moderator Have yourself a good evening, Blanda.

Blanda Okamoto You too. Good night.

moderator ood night

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