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Stronger Legs Make Longer Strides

You cannot run faster by consciously trying to increase your stride length. When you try to take longer strides that feel unnatural, you lose energy and run more slowly. Your most efficient stride length is determined by what feels most comfortable to you.

Your heel hits the ground with great force. The tendons in your legs absorb some of this energy and then contract forcibly after your heel hits the ground so you regain about 60 to 75 percent of that stored energy. When you try to take a stride that is longer than your natural one, you lose a great deal of this stored energy, tire much earlier and move your legs at a slower rate.

When most athletes run as fast as they can, they run at close to the same stride rate. For example, a video at the New York City Marathon showed that the top 150 runners had the same cadence, taking 92 to 94 steps a minute. The difference between the top runners and the others is that the best runners took longer strides. The key to running faster in races is to make your leg muscles stronger so you can contract them with greater force so they drive you forward with a longer stride. Competitive runners strengthen their legs by running very fast in practice two or three times a week and by running up and down hills once or twice a week.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How does the DASH diet lower blood pressure?

An article in the medical journal, Hypertension (May 23, 2003), shows that the DASH diet, which is based on vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products, acts as a natural diuretic. Following the diet causes the body to urinate out more salt in the same way that diuretics do. Most people do not develop high blood pressure when they take in excess salt. The people who benefit the most from the DASH diet are those who are salt sensitive, which means that their blood pressures rise when they take in too much salt.

The study included 375 adults with normal to moderately elevated blood pressure. They ate a DASH diet or a control diet for three consecutive 30-day periods. Additionally, during each of those 30-day periods, they ate either a high, moderate, or low- salt diet. The DASH diet increased the amount of salt in the urine and also lowered high blood pressure. The DASH diet is safer than drugs because diuretics can cause tiredness, inability to exercise, and impotence. More on the DASH diet

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Do the fat-blocker products cause a person to lose weight without dieting, as they claim?

Most of these products are derived from chitin, a polysaccharide found in the exoskeleton of shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, and or crabs. Many sellers claim that chitin causes weight loss by binding fats in the stomach and preventing them from being digested and absorbed. Some refer to it as a "fat magnet" or "fat trapper." Researchers at the University of California-Davis have demonstrated that chitin fat blocker products do not significantly block absorption of dietary fat (Obesity Research, Volume 11, 2003). At least three previously published studies have reached the same conclusion.

This study involved 15 men who consumed five meals per day for 12 days, with a total of about 25 grams of fat per meal. The amount of fat excreted during four days when they took fat-blocker capsules was then compared to the amount excreted during days without them. Taking 10 capsules of the product per day increased fecal fat excretion by only about one gram (a gram of fat is nine calories). This would have no significant effect on a person's weight.

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Recipe of the Week:
Cuban Corn Chowder

More soups, main dishes, salads and desserts . . .

June 27th, 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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