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Duration of Rest in Interval Training

To become stronger and faster, athletes use a technique called interval training, in which they exercise very intensely, rest and then alternate intense bursts of exercise and rest until their muscles start to feel heavy. You can apply this principle to your own exercise program, but the rest period between intervals is not the same for every sport.

Rest periods are different for runners and weightlifters. Runners run intervals as fast as they can and recover enough to run the same fast pace several times. Research shows that runners need very short recoveries between intervals, usually only about 30 seconds. So a runner may run a quarter mile 12 times, averaging 1 minute, with a 110-yard slow jog between each. However, weight lifters need much longer recoveries between hard sets, at least two and a half minutes.

Runners become short of breath and feel a burning in their muscles when lactic acid starts to accumulate in muscles. It takes only a few seconds for a trained athlete to recover from hard running and clear lactic acid, so runners usually need short 30 second recoveries between each hard run. On the other hand, weight lifters feel a burning caused by a tearing of the muscle fibers and it can take a much longer time for their pain to disappear so they can lift very heavy weights again.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Are drugs necessary to lower cholesterol?

No, many people can lower cholesterol with diet changes alone. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (July 23, 2003) shows that a combination of cholesterol-lowering foods is as effective as statin drugs in lowering both blood cholesterol and C-reactive protein. The subjects who were fed a diet that included plant sterol margarine, soybeans, almonds, psyllium fiber, barley, oats, eggplant, okra and many other vegetables had the bad LDL cholesterol levels drop by 29 percent compared to 31 percent in the statin drug group.

A cholesterol-lowering diet appears to be completely safe, while statin drugs can cause muscle pain. Athletes and serious exercisers train by taking a hard workout that makes their sore on the next day, take easy workouts until their muscles feel fresh again and then take another hard workout. Statin drugs make it difficult to maintain a good training program because they can delay recovery.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: My life is very stressful right now. Should I take extra vitamin pills?

There is no evidence that stress increases your needs for vitamins or that taking vitamins will help you handle stress. After you swallow a vitamin in your food or in your pill, it goes into your bloodstream and then into cells. The vitamin then combines with another chemical in a cell called an apoenzyme to form a complete enzyme that causes reactions to proceed in your body. All chemical reactions in your body require enzymes to make them go, whether the reaction is to form proteins, produce energy, or any other function. When chemical A is converted to chemical B and releases energy, a vitamin starts the reaction. Since enzymes only start chemical reactions and are not used up by them, they can be used over and over again.

Why do so many people think that vitamins prevent stress? In the 1930's, Hans Selye of McGill University in Montreal reported that the adrenal glands contain the highest concentration of vitamin C in the body. The adrenal glands make cortisol from vitamin C. When a person is under stress, the adrenal glands make tremendous amounts of cortisol and the concentration of vitamin C in them drops. However, scientists have known for more than forty years that the levels of vitamin C in the adrenal glands are still high enough to continue to produce cortisol and that giving extra vitamin C will not increase production of cortisol.

Vitamin brand names such as “Stress-Tabs”, which imply that they prevent stress, are no longer permitted. However, many entrepreneurs still try to perpetuate the myth, misquoting one research project on one vitamin, which never did show that taking extra vitamins prevents stress.


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Soup paired with a green salad makes the perfect lunch or dinner anytime. Try some of my favorites:

Green Minestrone
Soba Soup
Lemony Harira

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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