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Vigorous Exercise Helps to Prevent Osteoporosis

A woman’s bones are strongest when she is twenty years old. After that, she continues to lose bone for the rest of her life, and for the first few years of menopause, the rate that she loses bones more than triples. A study from the University of Erlangen in Germany shows that vigorous exercise during the menopause helps prevent osteoporosis (Archives of Internal Medicine, May 24, 2004). In this study, fifty women lifted weights in group training sessions twice a week, and exercised by themselves twice a week. They also took calcium and vitamin D. As their muscles became stronger, so did their bones. Their blood cholesterol levels dropped significantly and they complained far less about muscle and joint pains. This study shows that strengthening muscles also strengthens bones and that women who exercise vigorously in later life may have less muscle and joint pain.

Other studies have shown that women can benefit from a strength training program at any age to prevent osteoporosis or slow its progression. Join a gym that has weight-training machines and pick six to ten of the machines. Have the instructor help you select the appropriate weights and teach you how to use the machines properly. Do a set of eight movements in a row on the first machine, rest a few seconds and then do two more sets of eight. Do this on each of the machines. Repeat the routine two or three times a week. It's never too late to start.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Do competitive athletes have a greater chance of developing arthritis than non-athletes?

Yes; former champion athletes are at higher risk for degenerative arthritis requiring eventual hip and knee replacements, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop exercising. Champion athletes often train through pain and compete when they are injured. You should never do that. Your body talks to you. If your hip or knee hurts when you exercise, stop exercising. If the pain returns every time that you run, stop running and find another sport.

Most former athletes who end up with joint replacement surgery had major injuries that came from training when they should have rested, or from traumatic injury that damaged cartilage. Damaged cartilage never heals. Most people who have damage to the cartilage in their hip or knee joints should stop running and jumping, because the impact when their feet hit the ground is transmitted up to break more cartilage. Relatively safe hip and knee exercises include cycling and swimming; they are done with smooth rotary motions without road shock, or in the water that protects the joints. When the pain in your knee is so bad that it prevents you from sleeping, it may be time to get a knee replacement.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How does pepper cream relieve pain?

Pain messages are passed along nerves by a neurotransmitter called substance P. Capsaicin, the substance that makes peppers hot, blocks substance P and the resultant pain. Creams containing capsaicin will block pain in joints, nerves or skin. They can be used to relieve the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, the chest pain called Tietze's syndrome, nerve damage from diabetes, operations, injuries, tumors and infections in the lungs and bladder. Reports show that capsaicin cream also can control pain from breast surgery, cluster headaches and psoriasis, or itching from any cause.

Pepper creams are available over-the-counter in most drug stores. When you use them, you need to understand that capsaicin is a very stable alkaloid that cannot be washed off your skin, even with soap. If you apply it with your fingertips and then later touch your eyes, lips, or any mucous membrane or open cuts, you can get a nasty burning sensation that will last about twenty minutes. You can avoid this problem by wearing rubber gloves to apply it, or buy the pepper cream in a special roll-on applicator bottle so you don’t get it on your hands.

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When crabmeat is on sale in the seafood department of your supermarket, it’s time for a big pot of . . .

Authentic Maryland Crab Soup

This is Diana’s all-time favorite soup recipe. It freezes well and everyone loves it – great for entertaining.

Complete 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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