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High Blood Pressure and Weight Lifting

Exercise raises blood pressure because pressure is determined by the force of your heart contracting times the resistance of the blood vessels against the flow of blood. When you exercise, your heart muscles contract with much greater pressure to increase blood flow to your exercising muscles. However, studies have shown that lifting heavy weights does not cause sustained high blood pressure.

Normal blood pressure is under 120 when your heart contracts and under 80 when it relaxes. When you lift a heavy weight, such as when performing a leg press, your blood pressure can rise from 120 over 80 to 400 over 200. When you run, your blood pressure can rise to around 200 over 80. However, within minutes after you finish exercising, your blood pressure returns to normal. Regular exercisers have lower blood pressures than people who do not exercise. However, if you have a weak heart or high blood pressure, check with your doctor before starting a weight-lifting program.

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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 that the darker green leaf lettuces, spinach and other 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 lettuce to romaine lettuce: The iceberg lettuce contains 11mg calcium, 11mg phosphorous, .3mg iron, 88mg potassium, 19RE vitamin A, and 2mg vitamin C; while the romaine lettuce has 20mg calcium, 25mg phosphorous, .6mg iron, 162mg potassium, 146RE vitamin A, and 13mg vitamin C. Both have 7 calories, 1g protein, 1g carbohydrate, 1g fiber. So iceberg lettuce is a perfectly good food, but darker lettuces are even better.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Does washing your hands really help to prevent colds?

Extensive research shows that upper respiratory infections are spread more often from hands than by having a sick person cough in your face. One report from the San Diego Naval Training Center showed that washing hands frequently helps prevent upper respiratory infections. Navy recruits were ordered to wash their hands at least before every meal and there was a 45 percent reduction in sick call visits for upper respiratory infections. When you have a cold, do not shake hands and wash your hands frequently. It doesn't make any difference whether you use an expensive antiseptic product or just plain soap.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What's the best exercise for getting rid of the fat on my belly?

Sit-ups, crunches and other exercises can strengthen your belly muscles, but there is no such thing as spot reduction. Exercising a muscle does not get rid of fat over the specific muscles that are exercised. If it did, tennis players would have less fat in their tennis arms, but they don't.

When you take in more calories than your body burns, you store them as fat. You store more that half the fat in your body underneath your skin and over your muscles. Some people store fat primarily in their hips and are at low risk for heart attacks and diabetes, while others who store their fat primarily in their bellies are at increased risk for heart attacks and diabetes. The "ab" exercises can strengthen sagging belly muscles, but they will not remove extra fat from your belly. The only way to lose fat from the place where you store most of your fat (whether it's your belly or your hips) is to lose weight overall.

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Three new, easy main dish recipes . . .

Castaway Stew
Shellfish Creole
Pink Beans and Brown Rice

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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