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Rests Between Intervals Should Not Be Too Short

Athletes train by "stressing and recovering". On one day, they take a hard workout which damages their muscles, on the next day, they feel sore and take easy workouts, and when the soreness goes away, take a hard workout again. They also break down individual workouts into intervals of stress and recovery. After warming up, they increase the intensity of the workout until they feel burning in their muscles, become short of breath, or exceed a certain heart rate. Then they slow down and when they have recovered partially, they increase their intensity again. They repeat these stress and recovery intervals until their muscles start to stiffen and they are then stop the workout. A report from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in Morgantown, West Virginia shows that the shorter the rest during an interval, the longer it takes to recover (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, August 2005).

If you are a regular exerciser, you probably have already noticed this in your own body. Runners may take an interval workout of running ten quarter-miles averaging 65 seconds each, with a 110-yard jog lasting three minutes between each hard run. If they shorten their recoveries to two minutes, they tire earlier, their muscles feel sorer afterwards, and it takes them longer to recover. The same applies to weightlifters. A weightlifter may do four sets of ten repetitions of lifting a 150-pound weight, resting for three minutes between each set. If he shortens his interval rest to one minute, he may not be able to finish his workout, feels far more soreness during the workout and will be sore for many days after that workout.

Athletes learn their ideal interval rest durations through trial and error. They may want to rest until their pulses drops enough for them to feel comfortable, or for them to be able to slow breathing rate down towards normal, or wait until their muscles lose soreness and they feel fresh. They do not wait for complete recovery of resting heart or breathing rate, or complete recovery from muscle soreness. Runners and cyclists often use heart rate monitors or a clock to determine when they will do their next interval. Weight lifters usually wait for their bodies to "feel" recovered. You can use whatever yardstick for recovery you like, but if it takes you longer than two days to recover from an interval workout, you are probably exercising too intensely, doing too many repetitions, or not taking a long enough interval rest.
More on interval training

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How does exercise protect against memory loss?

Nobody really knows how exercise helps prevent loss of mental function, but every factor that helps protect you from getting a heart attack or stroke also protects you from dementia. Anything that protects blood vessels also protects your brain. Heart attacks and dementia are associated with eating too much fat, saturated fat, fried foods, refined carbohydrates, too many calories, and not eating enough vegetables, nuts, beans and other seeds; being overweight, not exercising, taking more than two alcoholic drinks a day, and smoking. More on dementia

The Nurses' Health Study from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that exercising your muscles improved cognitive function in older women (JAMA, September 2004). Another study shows that more than 85 percent of middle-aged people who start an exercise program drop out in the first six weeks. You're more likely to continue if you exercise with others: a spouse or friend, with a personal trainer, or in an organized group or class.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is calcium deficiency the most common cause of osteoporosis?

Vitamin D deficiency may be even more important; a study from Amsterdam shows that 64 percent of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis lack vitamin D. A woman's bones are strongest when she is 20; you lose bone continuously over your lifetime until at 90, virtually all women have osteoporosis. Only recently have doctors become aware of this high rate of vitamin D deficiency which weakens bones. Very few people meet their needs for vitamin D from food; the most important source is sunlight. Still, during summer when sunlight is abundant, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was 59 percent; during winter it was 69 percent. Warnings about skin cancers from sunlight exposure may have increased risk for osteoporosis.

This study, presented at the 2005 annual meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, shows that postmenopausal women should get blood tests for vitamin D, and those with low levels should get more sunlight or take vitamin D supplements. Neither calcium nor vitamin D supplements are effective as treatments for osteoporosis; check with your doctor about the bone-strengthening medications.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Should I throw away my Teflon cookware so I won't be poisoned by PFOA?

PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid, a suspected carcinogen) is used to manufacture Teflon, but there is none present in the finished products. While the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is rightfully concerned about PFOA in the environment, you can continue to use your Teflon-lined pans without fear.

However, non-stick pans may release other toxic particles if they are used at very high heats, so they are not appropriate for deep-fat frying, broiling, grilling or similar high- temperature cooking methods. I recommend avoiding this type of cooking anyway, because high heat and browning can form carcinogens in foods regardless of the type of cookware you use. See http://drmirkin.com/nutrition/1220.html Diana’s recipes are almost all prepared in ordinary cooking pots or bowls, and do not require browning, so you don’t need to worry about foods sticking to your pots. Try these favorites:

Famous Bean-Eggplant-Tomato Casserole
Shrimp Jambalaya
Minestrone

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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