Monday, October 31, 2005

Can sports drinks cause stomach cramps?

A study from the Netherlands shows that sugar in sports drinks slows absorption and increases stomach cramping in running races shorter than 12 miles. Fluids pass through your stomach and are absorbed almost immediately in your intestines. Exercise slows fluid passage from the stomach but does not affect intestinal absorption. Sugar added to drinks can delay stomach emptying to increase risk for cramps.

Another study from the University of Utah, reported in the same journal, shows that taking a salty drink just before exercise increases endurance. Dehydration is the most common cause of fatigue during exercise in fit men and women. This study used salted drinks or placebo (unsalted) drinks with two groups of cyclists, and demonstrated a significant improvement in an endurance time trial as well as better maintenance of blood volume in the group that had the salted drinks.

Anything that increases blood volume should increase endurance. Taking in fluid before exercising increases blood volume, and using salty drinks increases blood volume more than pure water. But a major problem with salty drinks is that they usually taste awful. You can accomplish the same results by drinking water, soda or any other beverage you like and eat a handful of salted peanuts or other salty food before and during your endurance events.

When you're not exercising, don't get in the habit of using sports drinks or any other sugared drinks to quench thirst. They'll add up to a lot of calories with little other nutritional value. Use plain water or a calorie-free beverage instead.



International Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 26, 2005

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Are bone-strengthening drugs good for the heart?

Almost all treatments for osteoporosis help to prevent arteriosclerosis also. A study in QJM helps to explain why. Statins such as Pravachol, Zocor and Lipitor, used to lower cholesterol, strengthen bones. Bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax and Actinal, used to treat weak bones, also help to lower cholesterol and prevent heart attacks. Drugs such as Actos and Avandia, used to treat diabetes and lower triglycerides, also help to strengthen bones.

Osteoporosis occurs when fat cells replace bone cells in bones. Stem cells in bone marrow can form either bone or fat cells. We do not know the signal that encourages bone marrow stem cells to form fat instead of bone, but this recent data show that factors that help to prevent arteriosclerosis may also help to prevent osteoporosis. This is one more reason to eat a diet rich in plants, exercise regularly, and treat osteoporosis and high cholesterol vigorously.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Is high blood pressure during exercise a concern?

A study from Johns Hopkins shows that people who develop very high blood pressure during exercise are the ones most likely to develop high blood pressure in later years. These people have arteries that do not expand as much as normal arteries when blood is pumped to them.

When your heart beats, it squeezes blood from inside its chambers to the large arteries. This sudden bolus of blood causes normal arteries to expand like balloons do when they fill with air. The walls of arteries have sensors that allow arteries to expand with each pulse of blood. If the arteries do not expand enough when blood enters them, blood pressure can rise very high. Blood pressure is determined by the force of the heart's contraction times the resistance in the blood vessels. Normal blood pressure is 120 when the heart contracts and 80 when it relaxes. During exercise, the heart beats with increased force to raise blood pressure. It is normal for blood pressure to rise up to 200 over 80 during running, and to 300 over 200 while doing a leg press with very heavy weights.

People with normal resting blood pressures who develop very high blood pressure during exercise are the ones most likely to develop high blood pressure later on. If your blood pressure rises much above 200 during running, you are at increased risk for developing high blood pressure.

Ninety percent of Americans will develop high blood pressure, which increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage and sudden death. High blood pressure usually occurs in people who have normal blood pressures when they were young. If you have an exaggerated blood pressure rise during exercise, you should go on a heart attack prevention program that includes a diet that is high in plants and low in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, regular exercise, losing weight if you are overweight, not smoking, and avoiding stimulants and drugs that raise blood pressure.

American Journal of Hypertension, April 2004

Friday, October 28, 2005

How many miles should I run each week to prepare for a marathon?

Many marathon runners think that they have to run 100 miles a week to compete successfully, but most will be able to run a marathon faster if they run fewer than 50 miles a week. Top marathon runners can run 100 miles a week and not be injured because of their superior genes. When most runners try to run 100 miles a week, they run too slowly in practice, and as a result, run too slowly in races.

To be able to compete successfully in any sport that requires speed, you have to train at a very fast pace. For runners, training at race pace or faster is far more important than how many miles they run. However, it takes time to recover after running fast, so most top runners are able to run very fast only once or twice a week. Most top marathon runners run very fast twice a week and long once a week. These three workouts form the basis for their training. All of the other workouts are done at a slower pace and should not be so fast or long that they leave you too tired to get through your three important training workouts.

A typical training schedule for a top marathon runner includes two workouts a day on weekdays and single workouts on weekends. They run very fast on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and long on Sunday. They run at a slower pace on weekday mornings and Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday afternoons.

You'll find lots more training tips at DrMirkin.com

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Is lactic acid buildup in muscles harmful?

A study from Australia shows that lactic acid buildup in muscles does not make muscles tired and may even make muscle contract more efficiently, which may increase your endurance. This startling research contradicts what most instructors teach in their exercise classes. When you exercise, your muscles burn sugar, fat or protein in the presence of oxygen to produce energy. If you exercise so intensely that you become very short of breath and your muscles can’t get enough oxygen, lactic acid accumulates in your muscle fibers.

The old theory was that lactic acid makes the muscles more acidic which causes them to hurt and burn and interferes with their ability to contract, so you feel tired. This new research shows that rat’s muscles contact more efficiently when lactic acid accumulates in them. Electric currents cause muscles to contract. This electricity is generated by cell membranes causing potassium to move inside cells and chloride ions to stay outside. With vigorous exercise, potassium ions accumulate outside cells. As large amounts of potassium ions accumulate outside cells, electricity is not generated and the cells cannot contract. Another ion called chloride accumulates outside cells and prevents potassium from getting back inside cells. Lactic acid removes the chloride, so it is easier for potassium to get back inside cells. Therefore lactic acid increases the ratio of potassium inside cells to the amount outside, and this helps the muscle contract with more efficiency.

While this new concept of how muscles use lactic acid for energy is reasonable, it is not likely to change the way athletes train or the way exercisers become more fit. Healthy people are supposed to exercise vigorously and feel a burn in their muscles during exercise, which signifies buildup of lactic acid in muscles. They feel sore on the next day, go easy for as many days as it takes for muscles to feel fresh again, and then exercise intensely again.

Science, August 26, 2004

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

What can I do about bleeding gums?

One in 10 people suffers from periodontal diseases, characterized by bleeding in the gums when you brush your teeth, loosening of the teeth and damage to the structures that help the teeth stay in place. They are caused most commonly by infections by three Gram-negative bacteria: Porphyromonas gingivalis, Bacteroides forsythus and Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans. The body responds to these infections by producing various cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, TNF-alpha), inflammatory mediators (PGE2), and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-2, MMP-3, MMP-8, MMP-9). Viruses, such as cytomegalovirus and Epstein-Barr virus) can also cause periodontitis. Conventional treatments for periodontitis aim to eliminate bacterial plaque by scrubbing, cleaning and prescribing antibiotics. Recently dentists have also been prescribing anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease inflammation.

If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth or you have lose teeth unexplained osteoporosis, ask your doctor or dentist to prescribe a combination of metronidazole 250 mg four times a day, and Biaxin 500 mg twice a day for one week. Also see report #8745 on the link between gum disease and heart attacks.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Does ZERO on the label always mean no trans fats?

No! Many products that advertise zero grams of trans fat on their labels in fact have partially hydrogenated oils in their ingredient lists, and so contain trans fats.

Labeling laws allow a manufacturer to claim ZERO if there is less than .5 grams of an ingredient per serving. That doesn't sound like much, but if a serving size is one teaspoon or one cracker, it can add up to a lot of trans fats in a tub of margarine or a bag of chips. I think the claims are deceptive, but the manufacturers are not breaking the law. Use the list of ingredients as your source of information, not the "zero trans fat" claims. If the words "partially hydrogenated" appear in the list of ingredients, look for another brand.

Many manufacturers are coming out with new formulations of their popular brands that now contain NO partially hydrogenated oils. Vote with your pocketbook.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

How can I prepare for skiing?

The best way to train for skiing is to ski, but snow isn't always available. To prepare for a skiing vacation, you need to strengthen both your heart muscles and your skeletal muscles. You can strengthen your heart for skiing with any exercise that will raise your heart rate for at least 10 minutes, three times a week. However, to prepare your muscles for skiing, you have to use activities that use your upper legs, such as skating or riding a bicycle. The average bicycle rider is far better prepared for skiing than the average runner. Many joggers who can easily run ten miles find that they can't ski very long because their upper leg muscles tire and hurt after just a few minutes of skiing.

You drive yourself forward in skiing with the muscles in your upper legs. Running stresses primarily the muscles in your lower legs. It does not strengthen the muscles in the upper legs enough to allow the average person to ski for any length of time. Running stresses your upper leg muscles only when you use them to lift you up when you run hard up hills. Since you ski by bouncing up and down on your knees and shushing forward from your hips, the best sports to prepare for skiing are those that stress primarily your thigh and upper leg muscles. You can use the popular indoor exercise machines that mimic cross-country skiing motions, or ski on dry roads with roller-skis. In-line skating or cycling are good choices for outdoor preparation, particularly if you climb lots of hills. Add a weight training program to strengthen your upper body and arms as well as your legs, and you’ll be ready for the snow.

For hundreds of ways to get the most out of your exercise program, visit www.DrMirkin.com

Friday, October 21, 2005

Is arthritis inherited?

One study from Holland shows that people who eventually develop rheumatoid arthritis usually have abnormal arthritis blood tests long before they develop joint pains. Rheumatoid arthritis causes continuous joint destruction throughout a person's lifetime. Joint damage is thought to be caused by an overactive immunity, so the usual treatment is to suppress immunity, which slows joint destruction but does not cure the arthritis. Doctors can delay joint damage by giving drugs to suppress immunity as soon as the disease is diagnosed.

Perhaps all people with a family history of rheumatoid arthritis should get blood tests for arthritis and those with abnormal blood tests should be treated. However, nobody has shown that giving immune suppressive drugs before the onset of symptoms prevents joint damage, and the drugs have very serious and harmful side effects.

My treatment of rheumatoid and reactive arthritis with long-term antibiotics is controversial but has been very effective. If you have multiple joint pains, please read report #J106 (particularly if you are under 60.)

Arthritis & Rheumatism, August 2004

For hundreds of ways to improve your healthful lifestyle visit www.DrMirkin.com

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I'm exercising; why haven't I lost weight?

When people start an exercise program, some lose a lot of weight, while others lose nothing. An effective exercise program for weight loss should be 1) continuous, 2) use all of your major muscle groups, 3) include one intense workout a week for each muscle group, and 4) be done on land, rather than in the water. Stop-and-start exercises, such as lifting weights, do not require that you use your muscles continuously enough to burn a lot of calories. Those that use just one muscle group, such as doing situps or pushups, won't help you to lose a lot of weight because the stressed muscle groups tire quickly so you can't exercise very long.

Exercising at a leisurely pace won't help you lose a lot of weight either. You burn calories while you exercise and after you finish exercising. Intense exercise raises body temperature which continues to be elevated and burn more calories for several hours after you finish exercising. This also explains why swimming is not the best exercise for weight loss, because water conducts heat away from your body so fast that your temperature does not rise. When you exercise on land, air insulates your body so your temperature rises.

Pick sports in which you can exercise intensely, but don't exercise very hard in one sport more often than once a week. Every time that you exercise, your muscle fibers are torn slightly. You can tell this has happened to you when you muscles feel sore on the day after you have exercised. If you exercise intensely on days when your muscles feel sore, you are at increased risk for injuring them. Instead, alternate two sports, one that stresses your upper body and one that stresses your lower body. And (of course) don't forget healthful eating habits.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What causes exercise-induced asthma? Can I compete in sports?

People with asthma can usually compete in sports at a very high level when they know how to do it. All people who cough and wheeze when they exercise have asthma at other times also. Exercise-induced asthma means that you start to cough and wheeze 7 to 15 minutes after you start to exercise or immediately after you finish exercising. It's not caused by exercise, it's caused by breathing dry cold air. That's why running is far more likely to cause an asthma attack than swimming.

People who wheeze with exercise can wheeze when they are exposed to other triggers such as irritants like smoke, allergens like cat dander and infections. If you are wheezing before you start to exercise, using an albuterol inhaler will help you to exercise, but it will not allow you to compete at your best. For at least a week before starting an important competition, you may need to take an antibiotic if infected, or a cortisone-type inhaler, and sometimes even cortisone-type pills. You can sometimes prevent an asthma attack during competition by taking two grams of vitamin C one hour before your event. Another preventative measure is to exercise intensely for 45 to 60 minutes before you compete to bring on an attack of exercise- induced asthma. This can prevent further attacks for up to two hours. Another approach is to wear a face mask that warms the air when you exercise in cold weather. These are only research reports, so check with your doctor.

On asthma triggered by infection, read report #G107.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Why does a fat belly increase heart attack risk?

A study from Denmark shows why having a fat belly and elevated triglycerides markedly increases your chances of suffering a heart attack. Your body makes triglycerides from sugar. Abdominal obesity comes from high blood insulin levels. When you eat, your blood sugar level rises. To prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high, your pancreas releases insulin, which converts blood sugar to a type of fat called triglyceride. Insulin also drives triglycerides into the fat cells in your belly. So having high triglycerides and a fat belly are signs of high blood insulin levels, and high blood levels of insulin constrict arteries to cause heart attacks.

Fat cells in your belly are different from those on your hips. The blood that flows from belly fat goes directly to your liver, whereas the blood that flows from your hips goes into your general circulation. The livers of those who store fat in their bellies are blocked from removing insulin by the extra fat and therefore do not remove insulin from the bloodstream as effectively as the livers of people who store fat primarily in their hips. People who store fat primarily in their bellies have higher blood insulin and sugar levels, which raise levels of the bad LDL cholesterol that causes heart attacks, and lower levels of the good HDL cholesterol that prevents heart attacks.

If you store fat primarily in your belly you should restrict refined carbohydrates found in foods made with flour, white rice, milled corn or added sugars.

Sit-ups are fine for strengthening your belly muscles, but don't believe they will get rid of a fat stomach. Exercising a muscle does not get rid of fat over the specific muscles that are exercised. If it did, tennis players would have less fat in their tennis arms, but they don't. The only way to reduce a fat belly is to lose weight overall.

Circulation, Volume 111, 2005

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Monday, October 17, 2005

What can I do to correct awkward running form?

Many people look terribly uncoordinated when they run. Telling them to change their form will just make them more uncoordinated. If a coach criticizes a team member for poor running form and doesn't correct the underlying causes, the person is likely to become self-conscious about how he or she looks, and run even more slowly. Coordination usually improves just with repeated practice in the chosen sport.

Running form can improve markedly if you can correct muscle imbalances and structural abnormalities with appropriate exercises and perhaps mechanical devices. A coach can videotape the athletes while they run, then review the tape in slow motion to analyze the mechanical defects. For example, leaning forward during running is often caused by weak back muscles, which can be treated with exercises to strengthen the back. Pointing the toes out is often caused by weak lower leg muscles and can be corrected by doing exercises to strengthen the shin muscles. Leaning back on the heels after foot plant can be caused by excessive rolling-in motion of the feet or weak calf muscles.

Treatment often includes special inserts in the shoes and calf strengthening exercises, such as toe raises while holding a heavy weight in the hands. Holding the shoulders up towards the ears during running is usually caused by weak shoulder muscles, which can be corrected by shrugging the shoulders while holding weights. A low knee-lift is often caused by weak quadriceps muscles in the front of the upper leg. The quadriceps can be strengthened by pedaling a bicycle, skating, or running up hills. Also read how weight training helps you run faster.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

How can I keep my feet and ankles from swelling?

Your leg muscles function as a second heart to pump fluid from your legs to your heart. When your leg muscles relax, the veins near them fill up with blood. When your leg muscles contract, they compress the veins and squeeze blood up toward your heart.

When you stand still, your heart has to work very hard to pump blood against gravity from your feet to your heart. When your feet are above your heart, gravity works with you to help blood and fluid return to the heart. Eight hours of standing or sitting causes your feet to swell up to more than 110 percent of their size. This can make your shoes feel tight and your feet hurt.

The best way to prevent swelling is to elevate your feet. The next best way is to move your feet and toes frequently while you are sitting or standing. This can reduce swelling by more than 50 percent and will usually prevent the pain that it causes. If your feet still swell, check with your doctor. You may have a more serious cause, or you may need diuretics or compression stockings.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Will drinking lots of water help me lose weight?

Drinking extra water with meals will not reduce the amount of food that you eat. If you drink several glasses of water with your meals, the extra water will distend your stomach and make you feel full for a minute or two, but the water leaves your stomach so quickly that you feel hungry again. The only stimulus to make you stop eating is to take in enough food to make you feel full and satisfied. Water has no calories and does not satisfy hunger.

Most of your requirements for water are met by the food that you eat. A day's food contains about 4 cups of water. The chemical reactions that occur as you burn calories add another 2 cups of water, for a total of 6 cups. You can easily meet your need for 8 glasses of water each day by drinking a couple of glasses of water or other liquid.

Healthy kidneys are so effective in clearing extra fluid from your body that healthy people can take in a lot of extra water safely. Your kidneys can clear 5 gallons of water per day or a half glass of water every 15 minutes. If you exceed your upper limit for water, you may develop a headache, nausea and even seizures.

Foods that are high in fiber and water content help you lose weight because they fill you up without a lot of calories. Forget about drinking extra water; eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.

Friday, October 14, 2005

How can I get my spouse to exercise?

Find an exercise program that you can do together. Several studies show that one way to encourage middle-aged people to exercise is for them to do it with their spouses. In one study, almost 50 percent of married men who exercised without their wives dropped out of exercise programs while only 29 percent of those who exercised with their wives quit. If your husband has high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or a paunchy abdomen, you are more likely get him to exercise in a program that you do together. Try to find an activity you will both enjoy and can do equally well.

Cycling is a good choice for many people, but not much fun if one person is a much stronger rider than the other. If you like each other, try riding a tandem bicycle. You will always be together and you both can get a good workout because the amount of work you do depends on how hard you press on the pedals. If you press with twice the force, you do twice the work, but you’ll always stay together. Many areas have tandem bike clubs, which make riding even more fun.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Why should I warm up before exercising?

Warming up before you exercise intensely helps you to jump higher, run faster, lift heavier and throw further.

You do not warm up to increase muscle temperature because heating a muscle does not prevent injuries or make the muscle contract with more force. You warm up to bring in more muscle fibers to contract at the same time. It's called recruitment. Muscles are made of millions of individual fibers. When you contract a muscle for the first time, you use fewer than one percent of your muscle fibers. The second time you bring in more fibers, and you keep on increasing the number of muscle fibers used in each contraction for several minutes of using that muscle.

To warm up, jog in place, spin on a stationary bicycle or do any other activity to get yourself moving. Start slowly and then increase your pace gradually. Usually you are warmed up when you start to sweat. Then when you contract more muscle fibers, there is less force on each individual fiber to help protect them from injury.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Does stretching prevent injuries?

A review in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine shows that there is no good evidence that stretching prevents sports injuries. Muscles and tendons tear when the force applied to them is greater than their inherent strength, so anything that makes a muscle stronger helps to prevent injuries. Strengthening muscles helps prevent muscle and tendon tears, but stretching does not make muscles stronger. This review showed that stretching does not prevent shin splints, bone stress fractures, sprains, strains or other arm and leg injuries.

However, stretching can make you a better athlete. Competitive athletes need to stretch to makes muscles and tendons longer and more flexible. A longer muscle can exert a greater torque on a joint to help you run faster, lift heavier, throw further and jump higher. Stretching should always be done after your muscles are warmed up. You are likely to injure yourself if you stretch before you have warmed up or when your muscles are tired. Warming up raises muscle temperature to make them more pliable. Stretch no further than you can hold for a few seconds. Bouncing gives you a longer stretch, but can tear muscles. Only competitive athletes need to stretch further than they can hold for a few seconds. If you're over 50, be extra careful because older muscles are less springy and more likely to tear.

Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, March 2005

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Should I limit caffeine?

Two recent studies show that too much caffeine may cause problems for some people. Researchers at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario report that caffeine, in coffee, tea, chocolate, and most colas, raises blood sugar levels in healthy people and diabetics, which cannot be reversed by exercise or weight loss (1).

When you eat, your blood sugar level rises. If it rises too high, sugar sticks to cells, and once stuck on cells, it is converted to sorbitol which destroys the cell to increase risk for heart attacks, strokes, blindness, deafness, kidney failure and other effects of diabetes. Anything that increases blood sugar levels increases risk for diabetes. So, most doctors recommend restricting refined carbohydrates, in sugar and flour. Exercise and weight loss do not prevent this rise in blood sugar. These studies were done with caffeine pills. Coffee may contain nutrients, such as antioxidants, potassium and magnesium, that may prevent the high rise in blood sugar.

A second study, from the Netherlands shows that drinking coffee can raise blood pressure (2). High blood pressure markedly increases a person’s chances of suffering a heart attack, stroke and sudden death. The new guidelines state that normal blood pressure should be below 120 when the heart contracts and 80 when it relaxes. That means the almost 91 percent of all North Americans will eventually become hypertensive and suffer increased risk for premature death. The authors reviewed 16 studies on coffee drinking and high blood pressure and found that for most people, drinking coffee does not raise blood pressure, but for some, even one cup of coffee can raise blood pressure. If you drink coffee or any other caffeinated beverage regularly, it may pay to check your blood pressure twenty minutes after a drink. Your blood pressure is too high if it is above 120 over 80.

In earlier studies caffeine has been reported to block insulin and cause dependence.

1)Diabetes Care, March 2005

2)Journal of Hypertension, May 2005

Friday, October 07, 2005

Will muscles turn into fat if I stop exercising?

Muscles can't possibly turn to fat. When you exercise, your muscles become larger and stronger because exercise causes extra protein building blocks, called amino acids, to deposit in muscles. All day long, amino acids pass from your muscles into your bloodstream and then back into muscles. Exercise is the major stimulus to force amino acids back into muscles.

When you stop exercising, fewer amino acids go into your muscles so the muscles get smaller. Your body has no way to store extra protein, so amino acids that are not used in your muscles are picked up by your liver, which uses them for energy or converts them into fat for storage. So if you stop exercising, you have to eat less or you will gain weight. But muscles never turn into fat.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Will damaged knee cartilage regrow?

When all the cartilage in your knee is gone, the only effective treatment is to replace the whole knee. Knee replacements are now lasting for twelve to twenty years or more, and most remain pain-free. The ends of bones are soft, so they must be covered with a thick white gristle called cartilage. Once damaged, cartilage can never heal. An affected person spends the rest of his life losing cartilage until the cartilage is completely gone and the knee hurts 24 hours a day.

The only effective treatment at that time is to replace the entire knee. However, the artificial knee can become dislodged from the bones and may need to be replaced after several years. The area will be so full of scar tissue that a second surgery is far more difficult than the first. If you have damaged cartilage in your knee, you should protect that knee for the rest of your life. Running, fast walking and jumping cause further damage, while pedaling and swimming usually do not. When the knee hurts all the time, your doctor will check to see how much cartilage is left. If it's gone, you probably need a knee replacement. See my reports on Synvisc injections into knees and arthroscopic knee surgery.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

How do products that burn fat while you sleep work?

Please don’t be taken in by ads that say you will burn fat instead of sugar while you sleep. Even if the products worked, you burn so few calories during sleep that it is irrelevant whether you are burning sugar or fat.

Your body burns primarily fat and sugar for energy. The harder you exercise, the more sugar your muscles use. You use the lowest percentage of fat when you exercise and the highest percentage when you sleep. Your body converts fat into sugar and sugar into fat, so the crucial factor is how many calories you burn, and not whether you burn more fat or sugar. For example, the average 150 pound person burns about 60 calories an hour during sleep, compared to more than 600 calories per hour while jogging. If you burn 80 percent fat during sleep, you will burn 48 calories of fat or one fifth of an ounce. If you burn 50 percent fat when you exercise, you will burn 1.3 ounces of fat per hour or more than six times as much.

There are many other products on the market today that promise to help you lose weight. None will help you unless they get you to exercise more and eat fewer calories. If you are serious about losing weight, learn to eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans; avoid concentrated sources of fats, especially saturated fats and partially hydrogenated oils; and stay away from refined carbohydrates (foods made with flour, white rice or milled corn, and all added sugars). Start a vigorous exercise program that you can continue for the rest of your life. Forget about diet gimmicks; if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Monday, October 03, 2005

How to start an exercise program

If you’d like to start a new exercise program, pick any sport or activity that uses continuous motion (such as running, fast walking, cycling, swimming, skating, rowing, dancing) that you think you might enjoy. Start out at a relaxed pace until your muscles feel heavy and then stop. For the first several days or weeks you may be able to exercise only for a few minutes. Increase the amount of time gradually until you can exercise 30 minutes a day at a relaxed pace and not feel sore. Take a day off or go very easy any time you have any muscle soreness.

If you're happy with this program, you don't need to go any further. However, if you want to improve, follow the training methods that competitive athletes use. When a 30-minute session is easy for you, you are ready to begin training for fitness. Try to increase the intensity of your exercise on one day a week. Do your jogging, cycling or whatever you have chosen as your sport at a slow pace to warm up. Then gradually increase the pace until you start to feel short of breath and your muscles start to feel sore, and then slow down. Then when you recover, pick up the pace again. Repeat these surges until your muscles start to stiffen and then quit for the day. Take the next day off and go easy the rest of the week. Then once a week, keep on making your one-day-a-week hard workout harder and harder. You will be continuously increasing your level of fitness.

Before you start any new exercise program, check with your doctor to make sure that you do not have anything wrong with your heart or blood vessels. Intense exercise won’t hurt a healthy heart, but it can increase your risk for a heart attack if you already have a damaged heart.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Are the antibiotics that are added to animal feed harmful to humans?

The practice of giving antibiotics routinely to farm animals has caused most bacteria in meat to be resistant to antibiotics. Salmonella is a bacteria that infects both animal and humans. It causes diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever and even death. When farm animals are given antibiotics to prevent infections, these antibiotics kill susceptible bacteria, leaving in the animals only bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Then, resistant bacteria are transmitted to humans who eat the meat.

One study showed that twenty percent of supermarket meats contained salmonella, with 84 percent of the salmonella resistant to at least one antibiotic, and 53 percent resistant to at least three. This could be prevented with strict laws to prevent farmers from routinely giving all animals antibiotics. Until then, you can protect yourself by cooking meat well before you eat it.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

Of course you should check with your doctor, but many studies have shown that exercise is not harmful during pregnancy. Some have concluded that women who exercise vigorously during pregnancy give birth to smaller but otherwise healthy babies, and one study showed that vigorous exercise during pregnancy can help to prevent preterm birth. Ingrid Christianson, a former world record holder, gave birth to a healthy baby after wining the Houston Marathon when she was five months pregnant.

It would be almost impossible for a pregnant women to exercise so vigorously for the baby’s brain to be deprived of oxygen. Excessively high body temperature is a theoretical concerns; while infections can raise body temperature high enough to damage the baby’s brain, I know of no reports of exercise doing this. Lack of sufficient calories is a more reasonable concern. If you are a heavy exerciser you must be sure to eat adequate amounts of food to meet both your own needs and those of your developing baby. You are supposed to gain about twenty pounds, regardless of your weight before pregnancy. No woman should use exercise or food restriction to attempt weight loss while she is pregnant. See reports #8392 and #9622 on diet during pregnancy.