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Hit a Punching Bag for Fitness

Would you like a sport that gets you respect and complements most team sports and activities that stress primarily your legs, such as running, cycling, skiing, skating or dancing? Try hitting a punching bag. You can buy an inexpensive punching bag at most sporting goods stores. They are supported by special floor stands or are hung from a frame that attaches to your wall or ceiling.

Any vigorous exercise injures muscle fibers. That's why you feel sore on the day after you have had a good workout. Exercising when your muscles are sore increases your chances of injuring them, and waiting until the soreness disappears reduces your chances of injury. Cross training means that you alternate sports on successive days to stress different muscle groups. Cross training prevents injuries by allowing your muscles at least 48 hours to recover. Hitting a punching bag is an excellent upper body exercise that you can alternate with any lower body exercise.

A punching bag also helps to improve your coordination. When you hit the bag, it bounces backward and rebounds toward you. Try to hit the bag at the exact time that it comes towards you. If you hit it too early or late, it will not bounce rhythmically and you will miss it. Start out by hitting the bag lightly every other day until your arms feel heavy or sore, or you feel tired. Then gradually increase the time and intensity of your punching sessions.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is it true that iceberg lettuce is completely devoid of nutrition?

It's not devoid of nutrition, just a less concentrated source of nutrients than the darker green leaf lettuces, spinach and other dark leafy greens. Lighter colors in vegetables mean they contain more water and therefore fewer nutrients "per cubic inch." Here's a comparison of one cup of iceberg and one cup of romaine lettuce:
Iceberg lettuce -- 11mg calcium, 11mg phosphorous, .3mg iron, 88mg potassium, 19RE vitamin A, 2mg vitamin C.
Romaine lettuce -- 20mg calcium, 25mg phosphorous, .6mg iron, 162mg potassium, 146RE vitamin A, 13mg vitamin C.
Both have 7 calories, 1g protein, 1g carbohydrate, 1g fiber. Iceberg lettuce is a perfectly good food, but darker lettuces are even better.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: My aerobics instructor says we need to dance for 30 minutes to get any real benefit, but I'm exhausted after ten. Is there any point in continuing with the class?

You should start out by exercising in each session only until your muscles feel heavy or hurt and then you should quit for the day. Eventually, you should be able to work up to the full 30 minutes. However, many people injure themselves because they are so obsessed with trying to reach 30 minutes of continuous exercise that they do not stop exercising when they feel pain.

If you can't exercise for 30 minutes continuously in one sport, try to get at least 30 minutes total exercise or vigorous activity during the day. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you don't have to engage in vigorous exercise for sustained periods to gain substantial health benefits. If you exercise for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds and alternate exercising and resting, you should be able to exercise far longer without injuring yourself.

If you tire early in one sport, you can exercise in several sports, stopping in each when you feel the least discomfort. For example, go to your aerobic dance class and stop when you feel the least bit tired, even if you have to quit after two minutes. Rest, and then ride a stationary bike until your legs start to feel heavy, perhaps for three minutes. Later in the day, walk for a while until you feel tired. Try for a combined total time of 30 minutes of exercise per day, three to five days a week. You can count any physical activity that keeps you moving constantly, such as walking, climbing stairs or gardening.

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Reports from drmirkin.com

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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