My Focus on Fitness | Camo Strip (top)
My Focus on Fitness | Camo Strip (bottom)

Injuries and Exercise

Injuries are common over time from to much overuse of the feet and joints.  Any rhythmic exercise that repeats the same movement over an extended time period can set you up for overuse or repetitive motion injury. According to New York Presbyterian Hospital, repetitive motion injury is defined as “temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons caused by performing the same motion over and over again.” On the elliptical trainer or treadmill, foot overuse injury is most often related to poor exercise technique and inadequate footwear.

Common Low-Impact Foot Injuries

While lower in impact than running, walking on the treadmill can still stress the joints, muscles and connective tissue. The elliptical eliminates some impact stress, but poor technique can still over-stress the feet. The most common types of treadmill and elliptical foot injuries are metatarsal strain or fracture, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendon strain, shin splints and toe or forefoot pain or numbness. The danger of injury is compounded for neophytes just beginning an exercise program because the muscles that stabilize your joints are not developed.

Proper Technique

Good joint alignment helps distribute body weight correctly to minimize injury. To achieve perfect elliptical alignment, place your toes at the front of the pedal, arms hanging at your sides. Find your balance and do a few revolutions without using arm support. Allow the heel to lift naturally as the foot passes beneath the knee. At the top of the cycle, push down through your heel, not your forefoot. When using arm support, maintain your balance and do not lean forward. On the treadmill, begin at a low speed, standing erect with arms at your sides. Allow your foot to roll in a heel-ball-toe sequence, not walking flat-footed or striking your forefoot first. Use rails and grips for balance, but do not lean forward or support your weight with your arms.


Shoes are your primary protective gear for fitness activities, and worn or cheaply made shoes can cause injury. A good athletic shoe provides stability and shock absorption, holding your foot and ankles in correct alignment while absorbing impact. Even if your gym shoes look presentable, they may have lost their original protective properties. Correct fit is critical. Purchase athletic shoes one-half size larger than street shoes. They should feel supportive but not pinch or rub. Shoes with a removable insole tend to be better made. If the insole is glued in, it is probably a cheaply made shoe.  There are athletic stores located in the East Valley that will actually put you on a treadmill and videotape your footage while having you run, and will recommend a good shoe for you.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at brenda@myfocusonfitness.com or you may contact me at 480-699-3162 or visit my website at www.myfocusonfitness.com

Are You As Fit As You Look?


Like most Americans, you might by relying on what your scale tells you to decide if you are healthy or not.  A recent May Clinic study estimates that up to 30 million Americans have a condition known as normal weight obesity or “skinny fat”.

You know skinny fat people.  They look trim and healthy on the outside and their eating habits are bad and they never work out.  I know many of these people and it is hard for them to remember that slender does not equal healthy. High body fat percentage, cholesterol levels, and  blood pressure make them vulnerable to the same obesity related risks.  The problems that they might be facing are serious and just as concerning as those who struggle with their outward appearance.

Are you skinny fat?  These three tips will help you determine if you fit into this category.

You need to know your numbers, not just your weight and BMI, you need to know your body fat percentage.  Healthy body fat percentages for women range between 17-31% and for men 10-24%.  You can figure out your body fat percentage with skin fold calipers, with a bioelectric impedance analysis, or by having a hydrostatic weighing.  I also suggest having your cholesterol (HDL and LDL), triglycerides, and glucose levels tested.

You need to begin an exercise regimen.  Cardio is important for heart health and strength training will build muscle mass which help regulate blood sugar levels and keeps you strong.

Eat healthy and most importantly, limit processed and refined foods and carbohydrates.  I suggest you focus on implementing a lean protein diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

For more information please contact Brenda Bark with Focus on Fitness at www.myfocusonfitness.com or you may contact me at 480-699-3162.

Fall is Here! take your fitness outside

Fall is here! This is a great time of year to move your workout outside and one of my favorite ways to enjoy the cool weather is from my bicycle.   Whether you ride a street or stationary bicycle the benefits to you are the same and include; the potential to burn a lot of calories both during and after workouts, decreased stress on your joints and back, conditioning your heart, toning your legs and behind,  it’s a  great way to target and burn fat cells, and it’s cheap.


The most effective way to lose weight while cycling is to monitor your heart rate to ensure you are in your ideal heart rate range to burn fat.  Your ideal heart rate range threshold can be calculated by taking 220 beats per minute and subtracting your age.  So if you are 55, the calculation would be 220(bpm) minus 55, giving you 165 bpm as your maximum heart rate threshold and the range which you should keep your heart rate in to burn away the fat is 65%-85% of that threshold or 140-107 bpm.    The best way to ensure you are staying within this range is to wear a heart rate monitoring device which you can purchase at your local sporting goods store.  I have found that the best fat burning exercise is always achieved through interval training which can easily be done when using your bicycle.

Before you begin your interval routine it is important to check with your doctor and then start slowly.  Maybe you start with 10 to 20 minutes at a time.  It is important to listen to your medical professional and your body.  Always begin with stretching and warming-up for a few minutes then you can start interval training by using the following routine;

Use intense effort for 12 seconds, recovery for 45 seconds, repeat this cycle 4 times followed by, intense effort again for 30 seconds, then rest and recovery for 2 minutes. I suggest repeating this cycle for 30 to 45 minutes with a complete cool down and stretching.

Once you are acclimated to this routine you can begin to increase your intensity and/or the length of your intervals.  The goal is to keep your body always guessing what is coming next.

Before you dust off your bike and hit the road it is important to make sure you are aware of the laws in your area and that your bike is in good shape to support your workout.  You need a helmet, lights and reflectors on the front and back of your bike, and water to keep you hydrated.

There are many great trails to explore in our area including the Paseo Trail in Chandler, South Mountain Park, and the Desert Classic Trail in Tempe.  You can find more bike trails here www.traillink.com.

I hope you enjoy riding your bike as much as I do and start to see it’s lasting benefits soon.

Holiday Weight Gain Begins with Halloween


Image result for Halloween small pics

With Halloween just around the corner,  these are a few tips to keep us on track!  It has been said that most people put most of the emphasis of gaining weight on  Thanksgiving and Christmas along with New Year’s, but the weight gain actually begins a few days before and the day of Halloween.  Just as all the little ghouls and goblins come out, so does the sweets.

We can all be a little devilish and be tempted to over indulge in the chocolate and our favorite candies along with the kids. However, we do not need to be lead into poor food choices and then into the holiday lifestyle that is going to follow. The holidays should not be an excuse to eat bad.  You need to remember Halloween is just one day, and the eating behavior should last one day as well.  Here are a few tricks to help you overcome this challenge:

  1.  Don’t buy mixed bags of candy, this can tempt you to try it all.  Stick to one type of candy, and make sure it is one you do not particularly care for.
  2. Put a lid on it.  Put it in a Tupperware container, and put away in a cabinet, where you don’t see it, out of sight out of mind.
  3.   Shop last minute, try not to buy candy too far in advance for the big day.
  4.   While giving out candy, try having some healthy treats prepared in advance for yourself, for instance there are plenty of good skinny girl recipes for cookies, brownies, ect.
  5. Donate leftover candy.  There are plenty of organizations out there that you would be able to donate leftover candy to or even your local church.

Try eating a little healthier and exercising a little more if you do not already do so, before the holiday, and the morning after make sure you have a good nutritious breakfast, and get back onto your exercise regimen, and burn any excess calories you consumed the night before.  Have a fun and safe Halloween.


For any questions or comments you may email me at Brenda@myfocusonfitness.com or other related articles or columns go to blog at at www.myfocusonfitness.com