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How to Start a Running Program

If you think you would enjoy jogging or running, here's how to get started. First, check with your doctor and get a good pair of running shoes. Start out by jogging slowly until your legs feel heavy or hurt or you feel tired. Then stop for the day, even if you have taken only a few steps. Do this every day or every other day. You should be able to work up to the point where you can jog slowly for at least 20 minutes. If you're happy with this program, you don't have to go any further. However, if you want to improve, follow the training methods that competitive runners use.

On one day, start out slowly and gradually pick up the pace. When you start to feel uncomfortable, slow down. When you recover, pick the pace up again. On the next day, if your legs feel stiff, don't try to run. If your legs feel fresh, run very slowly. Try to do these gradual pickup workouts every other day. Never do them when your legs are stiff or tired.

After a few months of alternating days of pickups and slow runs, you are ready to take the next step: intervals and longer runs. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, run faster. On Tuesday, try to run 220 yards fast (half a track length), rest and then repeat the 220-yard runs until your legs start to feel stiff. On Thursday, try to run two to five miles fairly fast, and on Sunday, try to increase your distance so you can run for at least one hour. On the other days, either run slowly, or if your legs feel stiff, take the day off.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Every time I lose weight, I gain it back again. How can I keep it off?

Mark Twain told us that giving up smoking is easy; he did it every day. The same applies to losing weight. At some time in their lives, most North Americans have lost more than ten percent of their weight and many have kept it off for at least one year. However, almost all regain that weight. It is extremely uncommon for a person to lose more than 20 pounds and keep it off for the rest of his or her life.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you have to make major, permanent lifestyle changes. Start an exercise program that involves others; you are more likely to do it for the rest of your life if your exercise is a social event. Join a running group or bicycle club, or participate in an exercise class such as aerobic dancing. In addition to a regular exercise program, you need to change your kitchen forever. Avoid stocking foods that raise insulin to high levels, which means avoiding all refined carbohydrates: foods made with flour, white rice or milled corn, and all added sugars. Limit concentrated sources of calories such as meat, dairy products (except skim) and added fats such as oils or butter. Most of your food should be whole grains, beans and other seeds; vegetables and fruits. This is a lifelong way of eating, not a short-term diet. If you have a lot of weight to lose -- more help

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How can I stay more alert late in the day?

Automobile accidents are more common at night because most people start to lose their ability to concentrate maximally after they have been awake for more than eight hours. A study from France shows that much of your early morning alertness can be restored just by napping or drinking coffee prior to driving (Annals of Internal Medicine, June 2006). Researchers tested young drivers during the day and again in the evening after drinking coffee containing 200 mg of caffeine, taking a 30-minute nap in the afternoon, or a placebo of decaffeinated coffee. They drove 125 miles between 6:00 and 7:30 PM, and again between 2:00 and 3:30 AM. The doctors compared self-rated fatigue and sleepiness, inappropriate line crossings from video recordings, and polysomnographic recordings during the nap and subsequent sleep. Night-time driving performance was similar to daytime performance for 75 percent of the participants after coffee, for 66 percent after napping, and for only 13 percent after the placebo. This study agrees with many other studies that show napping or stimulants improve performance in activities that require concentration or memory in the afternoon or evening.

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Recipe of the Week

Corn-off-the-Cob Chowder

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

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

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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