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Faster Running Improves Performance in Many Sports

If you want to improve in baseball, football, basketball or hockey, learn to run faster. To run fast in competitive sports, you have to run fast in practice and lift heavy weights to become stronger. Run a series of short fast sprints with a short rest between each. Do resistance exercises because stronger muscles drive you forward with more force.

No coach should ever require players to run sprints at the end of every practice or lift heavy weights more often than twice a week. Every time you run fast or lift heavy, your muscle fibers are damaged and feel sore on the next morning, and take at least 48 hours to heal. If you try to run fast or lift heavy when your muscles feel sore, you are at increased risk for tearing them and not being able to play at all. In the preseason, knowledgeable coaches have their players scrimmage hard and run sprints on one day, then practice plays and take it easy on the next. During the season, they play so often that players should not be asked to do much additional hard training.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Can you help me persuade my spouse that a dusty house is unhealthy?

Large amounts of inhaled dust can damage your lungs permanently. When a germ gets into your body, cells called stimulatory macrophage rush to attack the germ. Your body produces chemicals that cause blood vessels to widen and fluid to leak into the area to cause swelling, pain and redness. Then when the germs are conquered, suppressor macrophage stop the reaction. Normal lungs contain ten times as many suppressor macrophage as stimulatory ones. In people who have inflammatory lung diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis, the ratio is only three to one. When people are exposed to common house dust, suppressor cells die, in effect removing the brakes on swelling and redness. Living or working in a place that is full of house dust can cause lung damage in healthy people. Those who have chronic lung disease such as asthma or chronic bronchitis should try to keep their exposure to house dust as low as possible.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: My son's coach wants him to take creatine. Does it really build larger muscles, as he claims?

Creatine can help to strengthen muscles, but athletes who take these supplements need to know how much they can take safely before they harm themselves. When you exercise and your muscles get as much oxygen as they need, they burn carbohydrates, fats and protein for energy. When you exercise so intensely that you cannot get all the oxygen you need, your muscles use creatine and ATP. So when you exercise so intensely that you can't get enough oxygen, you can delay fatigue by taking creatine and it allows you to do more work, which makes you stronger.

The body of a 160 pound man contains 120 grams of creatine and he takes in and uses about two grams a day. No good studies have been done to show what amounts are safe to take beyond what your own body makes, so let the buyer beware. Creatine may allow you to lift more weights and make you stronger, but it may harm you. Taking too much creatine can cause weight gain, increased insulin production and possibly kidney damage. High levels of insulin constrict arteries to cause heart attacks and affect the brain and liver to make you fat. The chemical process of extracting creatine in the laboratory forms toxic contaminants called dicyandiamide and dihydrotriazines, that have to be removed before humans can take them safely. The industry that distributes creatine is unregulated and you have no way to know what you are actually buying.

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Three easy ways to add seafood to your dinner menu:
Cajun Fish Filets
Catfish Gumbo
Mediterranean Clams and Beans

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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