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Interval Training Can Be Done on Consecutive Days

The faster an athlete moves in training, the faster he or she will be able to move during competition. So athletes use a training technique called interval training in which they run, cycle, skate, ski or swim very fast for a short time. When they become severely short of breath, they slow down until they recover, and then move very fast again. Researchers at Ithaca College showed that athletes can gain as much by doing this type of intense interval training on consecutive days as on alternate days (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, September 2007).

Interval training causes considerable muscle damage, so it usually leaves athletes sore the next day. Most trainers recommend exercising at a slower pace until the soreness disappears. That is why athletes usually follow each intense day with one or more easy days. However, many competitions require an athlete to exercise flat out for several consecutive days. He may have to compete in multiple preliminary heats over several consecutive days to reach the finals.

In this study, the researchers asked cyclists to perform intense interval on either consecutive days or alternate days. Their improvement in time trials was the same. However, this study did not measure injury rates or risk of overtraining. Most athletes will suffer fewer injuries if they take a hard workout on one day and then go more slowly for as many days as it takes for muscle soreness to go away.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: How can I tell if my resting heart rate is too high?

If your resting heart rate is greater than 70, check with your doctor to see if your thyroid is overactive, you are anemic, or you have an infection, hidden tumor, a weak heart or other cause of a rapid heart rate. Having a resting heart rate greater than 70 increases your chances of suffering a heart attack (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, August 2007).

At this time, there is not enough solid data to show that taking drugs to slow heart rate, by itself, will help to prevent heart disease when no cause is found. However, those with chest pain during exercise or blocked blood flow to the heart do benefit from drugs to slow heart rate. Several ongoing studies are trying to determine if all people with heart rates over 80 should take drugs to slow heart rate. Drugs that can be used to slow heart rate and prevent heart attacks include beta blockers, ACE inhibitors, angiotensin receptor blockers, statins or aspirin. More

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What's the link between vitamin D and cancer prevention?

Many recent reports show that vitamin D is far more than just a hormone that strengthens bones. It is necessary for maintaining a healthy immune system. Every day, your body produces millions of cancer cells, and your immunity is supposed to search out and destroy these cells. However, when you lack vitamin D, your immunity is less able to destroy cancer cells. A study from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, showed that women had a 77 percent lower rate of cancer in the second through fourth years of taking calcium and vitamin D pills than women taking placebos (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2007).

The only really rich food source of vitamin D is fatty fish. Very few people are able to meet their needs for vitamin D from the foods that they eat and have to depend on sunlight to cause their skins to manufacture it. But concern about skin cancer has encouraged many people to avoid direct exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency is common in northen latitudes, particularly in people who have dark skin that blocks ultraviolet light. It is also common in overweight people because fat cells hold on to vitamin D and prevent it from being utilized. People who are at risk for vitamin D deficiency can ask their doctors to order a blood test to measure vitamin D levels. If low, they may need more sunlight, more fatty fish or vitamin D supplements.

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Recipe of the Week Squash Chili

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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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