Our Tactical Fitness Expert Answers Three Common Fitness Questions

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An Army soldier is sold on jumping rope to be physically fit.
Capt. Jude Coe, a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Combined Arms Support Command Soldier, stumbled upon jump rope as an exercise and is now sold on it as a primary means of physical fitness. (Terrance Bell/U.S. Army photo)

Here are three common fitness questions:

1. How Do I Change Bad Eating Habits?

2. Relieving Pain from Flat-Footedness?

3. Is Jump Roping Good for Cardio?

Changing your eating habits

"Do you have any advice about changing bad habits or advice on what kinds of food I could eat on the run at work or could take in the patrol car with me through an entire shift? Also, any other changes I could make to my workout to help increase metabolism?"

When on the road, I usually try to find a Subway at worst and eat a multigrain bread sandwich with lettuce, tomato, etc. Lay off the mayonnaise and go with mustard.

Always add a salad. It is OK to eat chicken that is grilled, not fried.

How is the workout going? This will make all the difference in the world. If you work out  hard enough, you can have some of those foods you love every now and then (once a week). Adding pull-ups, push-ups, running, swimming and/or weightlifting will be just the thing you need to help you lose weight.

Relieving the pain of flat-footedness

"What can I do to relieve the pain of flat-footedness? I get severe pain in the heel portion of my right foot when I run for more than 20 minutes. The pain doesn't occur until after the run. I wear insoles provided by the U.S. Army."

Flat-footed running is tough, but you need a good shoe. Perhaps a shoe's store can do a gait analysis for you. Then it can tell you what type of shoe will work for you. There are over-the-counter and prescription inserts a physical therapist can give you to help.

If you push too hard, you could end up with Plantar Fasciitis, and that will take months to heal properly. Perhaps it is time to see a doctor if it hurts to run or walk.

My saying is:

  • If it hurts to run, stop.
  • If it hurts to walk, do not run.
  • If it hurts doing nothing, see a doctor.

Using jump rope for cardio

"What's your opinion on the jump rope for cardio? I started a jump-rope routine, alternating between tapping twice with my feet, and full-blown swinging and jumping.

"By the way, I enjoy the supersets and pyramids; it's really let me get a bit more out of my workouts. I'm planning to join the Nat'l Guard next year. Thanks so much also for the articles and tips!"

Jump rope is a great way to get the leg muscles, arm muscles and lungs working if you can manage a few minutes nonstop. I like to mix push-ups, pull-ups, bench dips and abs in with some jump-rope sets for 1-2 minutes one day and then mix in squats, lunges and obliques with jump rope for the following day if I cannot run, bike, or swim. Jump rope is a staple of boxers, and they usually will jump for rounds of three minutes to simulate the moving in the ring for a full round.

But since you seek military training in your future, you should start adding some running with your plan when you can. See my running and cardio articles for more info on how to get started and avoid injury.

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to stew@stewsmith.com.

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