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Stronger Muscles Can Improve Coordination

Everyone from chess and violin players to dancers and professional athletes can benefit from training to become stronger. Lifting weights to develop large strong muscles can improve coordination, make you faster and more flexible as well as stronger. It will not interfere with the coordination that you need for such fine muscle movements as playing the piano or shooting a basketball.

Muscles are made up of two different types of fibers. The red, slow-twitch fibers are used for endurance and the white, fast-twitch fibers are used for strength and speed. When you strengthen a muscle, you train the same fibers that also make you faster, so strength training helps you to move faster. Coordination is controlled by the ability of your brain to direct the more than 500 muscles in your body. Strengthening a muscle does not hinder brain control of muscles. Stronger muscles use fewer fibers for the same task and therefore are easier to control.

Full length, range-of-motion strength training can also improve flexibility. To make a muscle more flexible, you need to stretch it. When you lift a heavy weight, your muscles stretch before the weight starts to move. In addition to making you a better athlete, strength training will also help you in everyday activities, such as opening stuck doors, jars and faucets, and doing your household chores.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Are people who take supplements healthier than those who don’t?

One study on healthy adults in Hawaii and Los Angeles shows that people who take food supplements are the ones least likely to need them (American Journal of Epidemiology, May 15, 2003). Seventy-five percent of the people in the study took supplements. The people most likely to take supplements were older, had higher levels of education, were more likely to exercise, ate more fruit, took in more fiber, and were far less likely to have risk factors for disease such as being obese, smoking, or eating lots of fatty foods. This study shows that people who take vitamins and other supplementary pills also follow a more healthful lifestyle. So the conclusion of this study is that it is very difficult to study the health of supplement takers because they already are participating in a healthier lifestyle than people who do not take supplements.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: What is the best way to treat recurrent bladder infections?

When I was in medical school more than 45 years ago, I learned that E. Coli, a common intestinal bacteria, causes recurrent urinary tract infections in women; and that women with these infections should be given 100 ampicillin pills and be told to take one pill four times a day for three days, whenever they had symptoms: burning on urination or unreasonable urgency or frequency. They were also told to take one ampicillin pill before making love.

Dr. Joe Palermo of Washington University in St. Louis has found out why some women get urinary tract infections over and over again, in spite of the best medical treatment available today (Science, July 2003). He shows that the treatment I have been prescribing for more than 40 years is correct. Dr. Palermo showed in studies on mice that bacteria that cause bladder infections gather into fort-like pods that keep out antibiotics. The E. coli bacteria burrow into the cells that form the interior of the bladder, which helps them escape not only antibiotics but also the bladder's mechanism for keeping itself clean by shedding a thin layer of cells. Every so often these pods break open, releasing bacteria, causing inflammation and the symptoms of bladder infection.

The pods are similar, but not identical, to other communities of bacteria called biofilm which help protect bacteria that cause cavities in your teeth. This same effect that causes recurrent bladder infections, and recurrent cavities in teeth, may also be responsible for recurrent infections elsewhere in the body including children who suffer recurrent ear infections.


Make a big pot of vegetable stew on Sunday; leftovers make great lunches and freeze well, too.

Red Pepper Stew
Roumanian Crock Pot Stew
Split Pea and Barley Stew

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

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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