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What Causes Second Wind?

Second wind means that when you run very fast, you reach a point where you gasp for breath, slow down but keep on pushing and after a few seconds, you feel recovered and pick up the pace. Some people think that you just slow down and allow yourself enough time to recover from your oxygen debt, but research from the University of California in Berkeley may give another explanation.

When you run fast, your muscles use large amounts of oxygen to burn carbohydrate, fat and protein for energy. If you run so fast that your lungs cannot supply all the oxygen that you need, you develop an oxygen debt that causes lactic acid to accumulate in your muscles to make them burn, and you gasp for air. The muscle burning and shortness of breath caused by the accumulation of lactic acid forces you to slow down. This research shows that the lactic acid that accumulates in muscles when you run very fast actually is the first choice of fuel for your muscles when you are running so fast that you can't get all the oxygen that you need (American Journal of Physiology- Endocrinology and Metabolism, June 2006). So your muscles switch to burning more lactic acid for energy, you need less oxygen and then you pick up the pace. Of course when you keep on pushing the pace, you can again accumulate large amounts of lactic acid in muscles, which makes them burn and hurt again.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Should I drink water or a sports drink when I exercise?

Drinks that contain salt and sugar are better than just plain water during exercise, unless you are also eating foods. A study from the Medical College of Georgia shows that tennis players have lower body temperatures when they drink fluid with electrolytes and sugar, rather than just plain water (British Journal of Sports Medicine, May 2006). Higher body temperatures during exercise slow you down and tire you earlier.

More than 80 percent of the energy that supplies your muscles is lost as heat. Less than 20 percent drives your muscles. So during exercise, your heart has to cool your body by pumping hot blood from your muscles to your skin, as well as pumping oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. If you heart has difficulty serving both functions, it cannot pump enough hot blood from muscles and your temperature rises.

You do not have to take sports drinks to protect yourself from high body temperature. During exercise, you need energy, salt and water and your body doesn't care how it gets these nutrients. Eating any salted food with water or any beverage you like will supply your body as efficiently as sports drinks.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is there a good screening test to tell if I’m likely to become diabetic?

The best predictor of diabetes is a test called Hemoglobin A1C (HBA1C), which measures the amount of sugar stuck on cell membranes. At the American Diabetes Association meeting in June 2006, Dr. Peter Baginsky of Santa Rosa, California showed that HBA1C can be used not only to identify people who already have diabetes, but also as a screening test to predict which people are likely to develop diabetes in the future. This allows doctors to treat pre-diabetes before people suffer their heart attacks, strokes and other side effects that can be the first sign that the person has diabetes.

He also showed that people who have HBA1Cs above 5.8 have a 92 percent chance of being diabetic as determined by a fasting glucose tolerance test. The HBA1C test does not require fasting and can be done with only one draw of blood, while the glucose tolerance test takes seven. It is less expensive and has the potential to save a lot of lives by getting diabetics into treatment earlier. More

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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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