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Late-Night Exercise Does Not Disturb Sleep

Many fitness instructors give bad advice when they tell you not to exercise within three hours before going to sleep. Several studies show that exercising vigorously before going to bed does not interfere with sleep. One study from the University of California at San Diego showed that three hours of vigorous pedaling at 70 percent of maximum oxygen uptake in very bright lights did not stop fit men from falling or staying asleep.

The old argument was that vigorous exercise causes your body to produce large amounts of its own stimulants, adrenalin and nor adrenalin, that make your heart beat rapidly, raise body temperature and prevent you from feeling tired. Newer studies show that doesn't happen. We also know that exercise helps to prevent disease, prolong life and make you feel good. So it is better to exercise whenever it’s convenient for you, even if it's just before you go to bed.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: How do the bone-strengthening medications work?

Your bones change all the time. Every day, certain bone cells called osteoblasts bring calcium into bones to make them stronger. Other cells called osteoclasts carry calcium out of bone which makes them weaker. Your bones are strongest when you are 20 years old. As you age, the osteoclasts do more work than the osteoblasts, so most people spend their entire lifetimes losing calcium from bones. Some people get so osteoporotic that they break their bones with slight trauma and can die from the complications. You are at increased risk for osteoporosis if you are thin, have blond hair or blue eyes, drink more than two drinks a day, smoke, do not exercise, eat huge amounts of meat, or are a woman who goes into menopause before age 52.

You can help to prevent or treat osteoporosis by lifting heavy weights, which increases the effect of osteoblasts strengthening bones. Bisphosphonates such as Fosamax block osteoclasts from taking calcium out of bones, while they leave osteoblasts alone, for a net gain of calcium taken in bones. The first large, long-term study of Fosamax, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (March 11, 2004) showed continuing bone-strengthening benefits after ten years with no significant side effects.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I’m shopping for a treadmill. How important is the feature that lets you adjust the slope?

Good treadmills have a lever that raises the front end to simulate running up hills, because running on level ground does not do much to strengthen your upper leg muscles. Running strengthens primarily your lower leg muscles. You stress your upper leg muscles significantly only when you run up hills. Each one percent increase in the elevation angle on your treadmill requires four percent more energy.

Serious runners train by running intervals. They run a short distance very fast, rest and then run very fast again. A typical workout could be to run four half-mile repeats, averaging two minutes each, with a slow one-eighth mile jog between each run. If you run a half mile on level ground in three minutes, you will run three minutes and eight seconds on a one percent incline, or eight seconds slower. Runners can expect slower times when they run up hills, but they will strengthen their upper legs.


Summer Picnic Fare . . .
Gabe’s Favorite Potato Salad
Hawaiian Slaw

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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