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The Hard-Easy Principle Of Training

You will not become a better athlete by doing the same training regimen each day. Athletes train by taking hard workouts on one day, feeling sore on the next, and not taking another hard workout until the muscles stop feeling sore.

It's called the hard-easy principle. If you want to become stronger or faster or increase your endurance, you have to exercise hard or long enough to make your muscles burn. Then your muscles will be sore for one or more days. If you try to exercise hard when your muscles are damaged, you will tear them and the muscles will weaken. If you wait for the soreness to disappear, your muscles will be stronger than they were before your workout. As you continue to take stressful workouts only after the soreness disappears, you will become progressively stronger and faster and have greater endurance. Athletes in most sports train once or twice a day in their sports, but they do not exercise intensely more often than every 48 hours.

There is a difference between the good burning of training and the bad pain of an injury. The good burning usually affects both sides of your body equally and disappears almost immediately after you stop exercising. The bad pain of an injury usually is worse on one side of your body, becomes more severe if you try to continue exercising and does not go away after you stop exercising.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is honey more healthful than sugar?

You may have heard that honey is better than sugar because it's a quicker source of energy, a richer source of minerals and less fattening, but actually, honey and table sugar are almost the same. Both contain two simple sugars called glucose and fructose. Table sugar has its sugar bound into one molecule, but it is split immediately in your intestine to two single sugars. Since honey and table sugar are processed the same way, honey is not a quicker source of energy.

They are equally fattening even though ounce for ounce, honey has fewer calories than sugar. Honey contains water which has no calories and refined sugar does not. A tablespoon of table sugar has 64 calories while a tablespoon of honey has 46 calories, but to obtain the same amount of sweetness you must use enough more honey to make the calories equal. Honey does contain iron and calcium while table sugar does not, but to meet your needs for iron, you would have to eat 10 cups of honey a day, and for calcium, you'd need to eat 40 cups.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Should my toddler have ear tubes inserted to prevent ear infections?

The inner ear is full of air and is connected to the outside through the eustachian tube that opens into the back of your mouth. Young children have narrow eustachian tubes that can close and fill with fluid that causes ear pressure and pain. If your doctor sees fluid causing the ear drum to bulge outward, he knows that the eustachian tube is closed and often prescribes antibiotics and a cortisone-type nasal spray. Antihistamines do not open eustachian tubes. Doctors sometimes remove tonsils and adenoids or give allergy injections, but these treatments have an extraordinarily high failure rate.

Since the eustachian tube enlarges as a child grows, the tube usually opens by itself in time and it is rarely necessary to perform surgery. However, if the doctor feels that fluid in the drum can interfere with a child's hearing or school work or that permanent damage in possible, it is reasonable to relieve this pressure by punching a hole in the ear drum and inserting a tube to keep it open. Research shows that the buildup of fluid in the inner ear is probably caused by inactive cilia, the small hairs that line the eustachian tube and sweep fluid toward the mouth. Erythromycin antibiotics can stimulate the cilia, remove fluid from the inner ear and help to relieve the discomfort.

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Recipe of the Week
Barley-Bean Salad with Tomatoes

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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