Dear Kirk,

You said something in an article a few weeks ago to make sure you drink lots of water. How much water should we be drinking when we work out? - Mark in Phoenixville.

Dear Mark,

To keep yourself properly hydrated you should be drinking water before, during and after your workouts. I recommend that you drink at least 8 ounces of water before your workout and 8 ounces every 15 minutes during your workouts. You will also need to replenish body fluid after your workouts. So make sure you continue to drink water at this rate for up to an hour after you complete your workouts.

Dear Kirk,

What are some good exercises to help my painful lower back? - Don in Phoenixville.

Dear Don,

You first need to visit your doctor to make sure you do not have any major problems with your back. After you visit your doctor, follow his/her directions carefully.

If you get a clean bill of health try these exercises. Sit in a chair and spread your knees apart. Slowly lower your upper body over your lap (with your knees spread). Do not curl over but focus on keeping your back long. When you get as far as you can you should feel a stretch in your lower back. Hold this stretch for about thirty seconds and slowly raise your self back up. Also, try this strengthening exercise. Lie on your belly with your arms to your side. Slowly raise one leg at a time and hold for about 10 seconds and repeat 5 times with each leg. You do not have to lift high, just enough to get your knee off the ground. Once you master this exercise, lay in the same position but stretch your arms above (in front if you are on your belly) your head. At the same time, slowly raise your right arm and left leg and hold for 10 seconds. Then try your left arm and right leg. Perform the stretch every day but do the strengthening exercises every other day.

Fit-Quest is designed to answer all your fitness questions. Whether you're a workout pro, or haven't even started, our fitness expert, Kirk Lombard, Physical Director at the Phoenixville Area YMCA can help. An exercise and sports science graduate of Penn State University, Kirk brings more than seven years of experience to Fit-Quest readers. If you have an exercise question you'd like addressed in Fit-Quest, email it to fitquest@paymca.org. And remember: NEVER START ANY NEW EXERCISE PROGRAM WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING YOUR PHYSICIAN.

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