Fitness Q&A

by Karl Lenser


I am finally ready to start getting in shape, but I don’t know where to begin. I have gained about 30 pounds since college and am sick of being soft and flabby! HELP!


You have already taken a step in the right direction by admitting that you are unhappy with the way you look and that you are motivated to get back in shape. The body usually follows what the mind initiates.

The first thing to do is look at your daily schedule and create some opportunities to exercise. Block off some time and write these times down on a calendar. Once you figure out how much time you have to exercise, you can formulate a plan.

For instance, if you have one hour to exercise, you should incorporate some cardio activity for 30 minutes, then concentrate on strength training for 20 minutes and then finish with some stretching/flexibility work.

The best activities are the ones that you enjoy or can tolerate the most. For overall health benefits, you should combine cardio and strength exercises at least three times per week. One idea would be to do cardio and strength on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday, just focus on cardio for the entire hour.

For weight loss purposes, it is critical to burn calories, and that is why walking, jogging, cycling, swimming and some cardio-focused group exercise classes are so critical for a fitness program.

Log your workouts every day so you have a record of your workout consistency.

The other half of the fitness/weight loss equation is dietary. I suggest you make an appointment with a registered dietitian or send a note to 501 LIFE’s Kellie Dye, who is an expert in nutrition/weight loss counseling.


What is the difference between BMI and body fat percent? My friend claims they are both helpful.


Body Mass Index (BMI) is a popular indicator of obesity that is essentially a number that is based on one’s height and weight. One can simply look at a chart and observe a BMI figure to determine if they are overweight or obese.

Men and women have identical numerical standards for BMI. A 25 to 29 BMI number indicates being overweight, and 30-plus indicates obesity.

Essentially, the BMI is a height/weight chart that does not really tell you what you are made of in terms of fat and muscle tissue. For example, a football linebacker is 6-foot-3 and weighs 255 pounds. In the BMI index, he is obese.

The BMI chart doesn’t analyze what the person is really made of. If this linebacker underwent a body composition test, he could be extremely lean with a body fat percentage around 8-10 percent. He would definitely not be classified as obese as the BMI chart indicates.

The body composition test is the better option because it provides you with a good estimate of how much of your body weight is fat and lean tissue (muscle, bone, tendons and ligaments).


A Conway resident, Karl Lenser is the director of wellness programs at Hendrix College. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. An accomplished runner, he can be reached at [email protected].