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Keep On Moving!

The next time you are stuck sitting in one place for a very long time, get up and move. Sitting for extended periods markedly increases your chances of suffering a heart attack or diabetes, and dying prematurely, whether or not you exercise regularly (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, May 2009). This comes from the Canada Fitness Survey that evaluated men and women for "sitting time" in 1981 and followed them for more than 12 years.

We have to explain why sitting increases risk for heart attacks and diabetes, even if you exercise. More than 80 percent of diabetics die of heart disease and diabetes can be caused by repeated high rises in blood sugar and fat after meals. When blood sugar rises too high, sugar sticks to the surface of cell membranes. Once there, sugar can never detach and is eventually converted by a series of chemical reactions to sorbitol which destroys the cell to cause blindness, deafness, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, impotence and all the horrible side effects of diabetes. The most efficient way to prevent these high rises in blood sugar is to contract your muscles. Contracting muscles draw sugar so rapidly from the bloodstream that they can prevent this high rise in blood sugar. This effect lasts during active exercise, is maximal for up to a half hour after you stop exercising and then gradually tapers off in about 17 hours.

Now we know that you should keep moving for most of your waking hours. Exercise every day, and when you are not exercising, continue to use your muscles. If your job or hobbies require you to sit, get in the habit of walking around several times an hour. Avoid being overweight, and reduce your intake of foods that cause a high rise in blood sugar when you are not exercising. The foods that cause the highest rises in blood sugar are sugars in liquid form and foods made from flour.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Won't I be a better bicycle rider if I ride hard every day?

If you exercise intensely when your muscles are sore, you put yourself at high risk for injury. The soreness you feel is from direct muscle damage. Putting great pressure on damaged muscles causes them to tear. Furthermore, sore muscles significantly increase your needs for oxygen during exercise and slow you down (European Journal of Applied Physiology, March 2009). That's why athletes in every sport use the "hard-easy principle." To become a better rider, do a hard session (very fast and/or lots of hills) so your muscles feel sore on the next day. Go slowly for as many days as it takes for the soreness to disappear, and then take another hard day.


Last week I wrote about fructose in drinks increasing risk for diabetes and heart attacks. This week I found an article showing that fructose-containing drinks also markedly increase risk for gout (British Medical Journal, February 2009). So people with gout should not take sugared drinks except during exercise. More on gout


Follow-up on vitamin D: Two recent studies show that vitamin D deficiency is far more common in people as they age (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, April 2009). As you age your body becomes less able to synthesize vitamin D. When blood levels of vitamin D drop, ionized calcium in cells drops. This causes the parathyroid gland to become overactive, which blocks insulin receptors to increase risk for diabetes, heart attacks, certain cancers and premature death. My recommendations on Vitamin D


Recipe of the Week:

For Cinco de Mayo:

Mexican Vegetable Stew

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 22nd, 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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