No Gab Zone

December 11, 2009 5 min read

Tip of the Week: Fly fit, land refreshed.

You may be a frequent flyer or only take to the skies once in a blue moon. Either way, you should know that by heeding a few healthy tips you can feel better when you're in the air and once you're back on the ground.

You've surely heard it before, but staying hydrated is crucial when flying. The air inside plane cabins is notoriously dry. How dry? Somewhere between 10 percent and 20 percent humidity. Consider that a comfortable humidity level is considered between 30 percent and 65 percent, and you begin to realize just how arid the atmosphere inside a plane can be.

To combat the effects of a flying desert, make sure to drink water throughout a flight. Also, moisturizing prior to flying helps your skin from drying out.

In addition to drinking and moisturizing, make it a point on flights lasting more than an hour to stand up at least once to stretch and tense your muscles. Circulation can be severely restricted in a plane seat. For people with heart or circulatory problems, such periods of cramped inactivity can trigger health issues.

Follow these simple tips, and your travel experience is sure to be a more pleasant one.

Q: What are your thoughts on cleansing? I have a friend who swears by it. She says she loses up to 5 pounds from a cleanse and has more energy afterward. Is there merit to it?

Joe: I know that cleansing has become more popular than ever in recent years and that there are a number of different cleansing systems on the market. There are cleanses that you drink and then there are those that are provided at a clinic. These involve the use of an enema.

From what I hear from those who do it, cleanses do leave you feeling energetic, and yes, you will lose weight from a cleanse, if only temporarily. Do I personally recommend cleansing? No. Do I have anything against the idea? No.

I think cleansing can be a good idea for many people whose diets may not be exemplary. With all the chemicals in processed foods these days, coupled with a paucity of fiber, our digestive systems often aren't up to snuff and can use a helping hand. In this case cleansing, which is essentially the use of laxatives to fully eliminate the bowels, can be beneficial.

For those of us who stick with a whole-food-based diet that includes a good amount of roughage, cleansing may not be necessary. I make sure to get more than the 25-30 grams of fiber recommended per day, and as a result I don't have the digestive issues of those whose diets consist primarily of processed foods.

You would know better than I whether your diet warrants intervention. Let's put it this way, though — whether you actually need it or not, a cleanse won't hurt.

Q: What are your thoughts on machines vs. free-weight training? The gym I go to is probably 80 percent machines, including cables. I have heard that barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells give you a better workout, but I'm pretty limited right now.

Joe: I tend to agree that, given the choice, you'd be better served working with free weights than with machines. What I like about free weights is that they require stabilization to lift, while machines are set in fixed tracks. Thus, smaller stabilizer muscles that come into play when lifting weights are not enacted via machine work.

Machines do have their place in a fitness regimen, though. For one thing, they allow you to isolate specific muscles effectively. If you have a weakness in your shoulders, you can target the shoulders specifically with minimal interaction from other muscle groups. Also, if you are suffering an injury you can better work around the problem with a machine.

I consider cables to be a nice hybrid between the two. There's definitely some play in the range of motion, but they are more control than with weights. I think ultimately the best solution is to incorporate all three into your training routine, taking advantage of the best that each has to offer.

Joe Weider is acclaimed as "the father of modern bodybuilding" and the founder of the world's leading fitness magazines, including Shape, Muscle and Fitness, Men's Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Hers, Golf for Seniors and others published worldwide in over 20 languages. To find out more about Joe Weider, write to him and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at

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