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Weight Lifting Helps to Prevent Diabetes

One third of Americans will become diabetic because they eat too much and exercise too little. A study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (July 2006) shows that lifting weights can help to prevent and to treat diabetes.

Extra fat prevents your body from responding normally to insulin. Before insulin can do its job of driving sugar from the bloodstream into cells, it must first attach to little hooks on cell membranes called insulin receptors. Having extra fat in cells turns these receptors inward, making it far more difficult for insulin to attach to the receptors. This prevents insulin from doing its job of lowering blood sugar levels, even though your body is making plenty of insulin. That’s why anything that makes you fat increases your risk for diabetes. Doctors can measure how cells respond to insulin with a sugar tolerance test.

In this study, adolescent boys were given a program of lifting heavy weights twice a week. After only 16 weeks, their muscles were larger and they lost fat. Sugar tolerance tests showed that the ability of their bodies to clear a load of sugar from their blood streams improved dramatically. This means that a regular weight lifting program decreases insulin resistance and thus reduces risk for becoming diabetic.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is there any real proof that exercise prolongs life?

Dr. Todd Manini of the National Institute on Aging reports that older active people who walk, climb stairs, do household chores, or even wash windows are 69 percent less likely to die in a year, compared to people who are far less active (JAMA, June 2006). This study was far more dependable than previous studies because, instead of using a questionnaire, researchers measured how active a person was by measuring the metabolic end products of activity. They used a doubly-labeled water method that directly measures carbon dioxide production over an extended period, the most accurate estimate of energy expenditure.

If you are inactive, you should check with a cardiologist who will do a stress test. If you pass, you should start an exercise program. If you fail, you should work with your doctor to correct the problem and then start an exercise program.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How many miles should I run each week to train for a marathon?

Many runners have the mistaken impression that they have to run a lot of miles every week to be able to run fast in a marathon. Most will find that running too many miles slows them down. To run fast in races, you have to run very fast in practice. However, on the day after you run very fast, your muscles will feel sore. If you run fast while you are sore, you are likely to injure yourself and not be able to run at all. Take easy workouts until your muscles feel fresh again. Most competitive runners set up their programs so that they run fast on Tuesdays and Thursdays and longer on Sundays. The rest of the time they run slowly or not at all.

Before you increase the intensity of your running program or any other exercise, check with your doctor. Once you are in good shape, your goal on your fast days should be to run repeat intervals with short rests between each. For example, on Tuesdays try to run four half-mile repeats at a very fast pace with a quarter mile jog between each. If you can run a mile flat out in six minutes, you probably will try to run each half-mile repeat in about three minutes and 15 seconds. On Thursdays, try to run eight to 12 repeat quarter miles at close to the same pace of about 90 seconds each. On Sunday, try to run briskly for 90 minutes. The rest of the time, jog slowly, being careful not to run so much that it interferes with your two fast days and one long day each week.

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Recipe of the Week

Maryland Crab Soup
(My all-time favorite soup recipe)

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

List of Diana's Healthful Recipes

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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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