Frequently Asked Questions

By AFM Staff – August 4, 2014
Photo by Brian Fitzsimmons

I usually work out in the morning and never eat beforehand. I’ve never noticed any problem with it, but my friend says I’m crazy to not have food before exercise. I worry that it would upset my stomach while I exercise and decrease the effect of my workout. Is my friend right? Do I need to eat before exercising?

A: Eating before a workout is one of the best ways to boost your energy and increase the flow of nutrients and oxygen to muscles. The key is eating the right food at the right time. Small snacks should be eaten an hour before exercising, small meals two to three hours before, and larger meals should be consumed at least three to four hours before a workout. Eating a huge dinner right before exercising can leave you sluggish. At the same time, you may feel lightheaded if you eat nothing at all before a workout. Focus on foods that will raise blood sugar and contain protein and carbohydrates, such as yogurt, bananas, whole-grain cereal or bread, and juice. Just remember to do what feels right for your body. Everyone is different, so listen to what your stomach is telling you.

I love to run, and ever since I got my dog last December, I have thoroughly enjoyed running with him. When it’s really hot outside, like it gets during the summer in Austin, I worry about him overheating. What can I do to make sure my dog isn’t suffering from the heat whenever we go on a run?

A: Running with a dog can be a great way to bond, but it is important to make sure it is safe in the heat. It’s important to remember that however hot you feel during a workout, your dog will feel even hotter due to his fur coat. Introduce your pet to the heat gradually, starting with shorter runs and take breaks periodically in shaded areas to provide some cool off. In addition, make sure your dog is hydrated before, during, and after the run. Collapsible doggy bowls for this purpose are cheap, lightweight, and easy to find. Plan your runs for off-road (dirt or grass), since hot pavement could easily burn a dog’s pads. Monitor for signs of heat stroke, which include heavier panting, disorientation, or vomiting. If any of these symptoms occur, cool your dog off with tepid water in a shaded place. And just as with people, food can contribute to an upset stomach, so watch what your dog eats directly before and after a hot workout.

How many times can I show up at a friend’s workout as a guest before I have to pay a fee?

A: The gym or instructor will have a policy regarding visiting, so it’s always a good idea to find that out. If it’s not stated on the website, ask the instructor. Visiting policies can vary from once to a free week. You can always ask your friend, who may be paying a guest fee to bring you along. In that case, only you and your friend know what’s the right amount of visits before you cross the line from welcome guest to annoying freeloader.

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