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Resolve to Get in Shape & Stay in Shape in 2006

Being out-of-shape is almost as strong a risk factor for a heart attack as smoking. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (December 21, 2005) shows that being out-of-shape markedly increases your risk for being fat, storing most of your fat in your belly, having a high bad LDL cholesterol and high blood pressure, and having low levels of the good HDL cholesterol.

We live in a society in which 91 percent of the population develops high blood pressure, 78 percent will have high cholesterol, and 35 percent are diabetic. More than 50 percent of us die of heart attacks and strokes from these risk factors. Doctors no longer think of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes as just being due to our genes. We now consider these diseases to be caused by our behavior. You prevent heart attacks, strokes and diabetes by 1) exercising; 2) reducing your exposure to saturated fats (meat and chicken), partially hydrogenated fats (most prepared foods), and refined carbohydrates (flour and sugar); 3) eating large amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts; 4) avoiding overweight; and 5) avoiding smoking.

We have known for many years that any kind of exercise or activity helps to prevent heart attacks, but more recent data show that the more vigorous the exercise, the better the protection. First check with your doctor to see if you have a medical condition that could be aggravated by exercising. People who are out-of-shape are the ones most likely to suffer heart attacks when they start an exercise program. With your doctor's permission, you are ready to start a training program. The best sports for preventing heart attacks are those in which you exercise continuously. You could run, dance, cycle or swim. It's important to pick an activity that you enjoy, because more than 85 percent of middle aged people who start an exercise program drop out in the first six weeks. Those who are most likely to continue exercising do it with a partner or in a group. Recruit your spouse or best friend, hire personal trainer or join a class at a nearby health club. Just do it!

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Should I stock up on drugs to treat bird flu?

At this time the only drugs we have to threat bird flu are Tamiflu and Relenza. There is no bird flu epidemic in humans, but there could be. Now you can get bird flu only from birds. The concern is that the virus could mutate to be spread from human to human, causing an epidemic that could kill millions of people throughout the world. On the first sign of chills or coughing during an epidemic, you would be instructed to take one Tamiflu pill twice a day for 5 days. This shortens the course of the disease by one day, which seems insignificant but could save your life. You could also take the drug prophylactically if you were exposed to people who have the flu. Relenza has to be inhaled, so you would take it only after you became sick.

If you hear that bird flu has mutated and is causing an epidemic among humans, you will want to get Tamiflu pills and have them ready if you need them. At this time it does not make sense to stockpile the drugs as there may never be a bird flu epidemic, the drugs are very expensive, and they have a limited shelf life.

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Reports from drmirkin.com
How much protein do you need to build muscle?
Do you get more colds if you’re unhappy?
Does your liver need to be detoxified?

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How does exercise make bones stronger?

Bones are not static. Certain cells called osteoblasts constantly bring calcium into bones to make them stronger and osteoclasts take calcium from bones. Exercise increases the rate that osteoblasts strengthen bones. Inactivity slow osteoblastic activity to weaken bones. So any exercise that places force on a bone will strengthen that bone.

If they live long enough, every woman and most men will suffer from osteoporosis. Women who break their hips from osteoporosis must have a hip replacement immediately. Otherwise, they have a 20 percent chance of dying from complications within a year. A study from Australia shows that running strengthens the leg bones of both older and younger women (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, October 2005.) However, the research shows that bones used in an exercise are the only bones that are strengthened by that activity. So running strengthens leg bones, rowing strengthens arms and back, and lifting weights strengthen bones that are used for each lift.

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Get back on track after the past month of holiday eating:
Try two weeks on my SHOW ME! Diet
with its always-reliable recipe for Mix and Match Salads

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

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June 26th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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