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Exercise and Fever

Heat stroke is a concern all year long, not just in summertime. Weight lifters often have temperatures of 101 degrees F during workouts in a warm gym. In the relatively cool environmental temperature of 50 F, healthy marathon runners can have body temperatures as high as 103.8 F. One runner developed a temperature of 107.8 F after finishing a marathon and was still conscious, but most people cannot tolerate temperatures that high.

When you exercise, your temperature usually rises and if it rises too high, you can develop heat stroke and pass out. Since more than 78 percent of the energy that you use to drive your muscles is lost as heat, the harder you exercise, the higher your temperature will rise. Your chances of developing heat stroke increase when the air temperature and humidity are high, you are not in shape, you take certain medications, or you are sick or dehydrated. Aspirin does not keep your temperature from rising during exercise because aspirin lowers fever by making you sweat; it does not increase sweating when you exercise.

To prevent heat stroke when you exercise, take it easy in a hot gym or on hot days outdoors; don't wait for thirst, drink plenty of fluid; and stop exercising when you feel the symptoms of a rising body temperature. Heed the warning signs: when your temperature rises above 102, your muscles start to burn. When it rises to 104 you will usually become short of breath and when your temperature rises above 105, you will often have signs of brain distress, such as a headache, blurred vision, ringing in your ears, dizziness, nausea or passing out.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I’ve been running on a treadmill for several months. Why am I still having a hard time climbing stairs?

If you have a hard time walking up stairs or getting out of a chair without using your hands, your thighs are weak. You strengthen your thigh muscles by pedaling, skating, or skiing, not by walking or running. The easiest exercise for strengthening thigh muscles is pedaling a stationary bicycle. Pedal every other day until your legs feel heavy or hurt or you feel tired. You should be able to gradually work up to the point where you can ride for thirty minutes, three times a week. When you can do that, start to increase the resistance.

If you find a standard exercise bicycle uncomfortable, try a recumbent bike instead. When you ride a conventional stationary bicycle, you sit on a narrow bicycle seat because your legs have to reach around the seat down to the pedals. When you sit on a recumbent bicycle that has the pedals at the same height as your pelvis, your legs don’t need to be separated so you don't need a narrow bicycle seat. You sit on a seat shaped like a regular chair that is contoured to fit your back and is very comfortable. Anyone who can sit in a chair should be able to use a recumbent stationary bicycle.

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Check the complete list of shows and topics

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Many recipes tell you to drain and rinse canned beans. Are nutrients lost if you do this? Does rinsing them help to reduce flatulence?

The liquid in the can has no particular nutritional value; you remove a little salt when you discard it, but not much else. Rinsing will not affect the gas-causing properties of the beans one way or the other. (However, if you cook dried beans from scratch, the liquid that's left after several hours of soaking does contain non-digestible sugars that cause gas; it should be discarded.) Diana’s rule is: if canned beans are going into a salad or any recipe where you don't want extra liquid, drain and rinse the beans. If they're going into soup or stew, just open the can and pour them in. On gas problems, see report #8630. If you're cooking dried beans from scratch, read How to De-Gas Beans.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How hard do I need to exercise to become fit?

Fitness refers to your heart; you become fit by exercising vigorously enough to make your heart stronger. Intensity is measured by how fast your heart beats. To strengthen your heart, you need to exercise vigorously enough to increase your pulse rate at least 20 beats per minute above resting, but that's only the minimum intensity. If you want to achieve a reasonable level of fitness, you have to exercise more intensely than that. The harder you exercise, the stronger your heart becomes. You become more fit by running fast for 10 minutes than by running more slowly for 20 minutes. However, intense exercise increases your chances of injuring yourself and can make you so sore that it may take several days before you can recover enough to attempt your next intense workout.

If you're happy with your present levels of fitness, keep on doing what you have been doing. If you want to increase your level of fitness and endurance, try to exercise more intensely two or three times a week. To protect yourself from injury, stop exercising when you feel more than the usual generalized burning in your muscles or shortness of breath, and do not try to exercise intensely more often than every other day.

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Recipe of the Week

Seafood sausage is availabe at many fish stores and seafood counters. Here's a wonderful recipe that uses it along with your other favorite seafoods:
Seafood Sausage Soup

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

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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