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How to Start an Exercise Program

If you’d like to start a new exercise program, pick any sport or activity that uses continuous motion (such as running, fast walking, cycling, swimming, skating, rowing, dancing) that you think you might enjoy. Start out at a relaxed pace until your muscles feel heavy and then stop. For the first several days or weeks you may be able to exercise only for a few minutes. Increase the amount of time gradually until you can exercise 30 minutes a day at a relaxed pace and not feel sore. Take a day off or go very easy any time you have any muscle soreness.

If you're happy with this program, you don't need to go any further. However, if you want to improve, follow the training methods that competitive athletes use. When a 30-minute session is easy for you, you are ready to begin training for fitness. Try to increase the intensity of your exercise on one day a week. Do your jogging, cycling or whatever you have chosen as your sport at a slow pace to warm up. Then gradually increase the pace until you start to feel short of breath and your muscles start to feel sore, and then slow down. Then when you recover, pick up the pace again. Repeat these surges until your muscles start to stiffen and then quit for the day. Take the next day off and go easy the rest of the week. Then once a week, keep on making your one-day-a-week hard workout harder and harder. You will be continuously increasing your level of fitness.

Before you start any new exercise program, check with your doctor to make sure that you do not have anything wrong with your heart or blood vessels. Intense exercise won’t hurt a healthy heart, but it can increase your risk for a heart attack if you already have a damaged heart. See report #9009.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Are the antibiotics that are added to animal feed harmful to humans?

The practice of giving antibiotics routinely to farm animals has caused most bacteria in meat to be resistant to antibiotics. Salmonella is a bacteria that infects both animal and humans. It causes diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever and even death. When farm animals are given antibiotics to prevent infections, these antibiotics kill susceptible bacteria, leaving in the animals only bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Then, resistant bacteria are transmitted to humans who eat the meat.

One study showed that twenty percent of supermarket meats contained salmonella, with 84 percent of the salmonella resistant to at least one antibiotic, and 53 percent resistant to at least three. This could be prevented with strict laws to prevent farmers from routinely giving all animals antibiotics. Until then, you can protect yourself by cooking meat well before you eat it.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

Of course you should check with your doctor, but many studies have shown that exercise is not harmful during pregnancy. Some have concluded that women who exercise vigorously during pregnancy give birth to smaller but otherwise healthy babies, and one study showed that vigorous exercise during pregnancy can help to prevent preterm birth. Ingrid Christianson, a former world record holder, gave birth to a healthy baby after wining the Houston Marathon when she was five months pregnant.

It would be almost impossible for a pregnant women to exercise so vigorously for the baby’s brain to be deprived of oxygen. Excessively high body temperature is a theoretical concerns; while infections can raise body temperature high enough to damage the baby’s brain, I know of no reports of exercise doing this. Lack of sufficient calories is a more reasonable concern. If you are a heavy exerciser you must be sure to eat adequate amounts of food to meet both your own needs and those of your developing baby. You are supposed to gain about twenty pounds, regardless of your weight before pregnancy. No woman should use exercise or food restriction to attempt weight loss while she is pregnant.


Diana’s Healthful Recipes

Three lovely new soup recipes . . .
French Lentil Soup
Spaghetti Squash Soup
Easy Split Pea Soup

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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