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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.

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How do large doses of some vitamins prevent heart attacks?
What can be done about signs of early puberty in an eight year old girl?
How does nitroglycerin ointment work?
Why are the water-based cooking methods most healthful?
How could diet cause baldness?
Listen to my answers to these questions and lots more in Hour 236 of the Dr. Gabe Mirkin Show.
Complete list of shows and topics

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I’ve started to exercise, but so far I haven’t lost any weight. What am I doing wrong?

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.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I’ve had several asthma attacks since I joined my school’s track team. Should I quit?

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.

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Two of Diana’s favorite SOUPS for cooler weather . . .

Moroccan Chickpea and Barley Soup
Lemony Lentil Soup
Lots more hearty soup recipes

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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