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Fit Youths Make Healthy Adults

A study from Finland shows that teenagers who are out of shape are at increased risk for having high blood pressure later in life (International Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 26, 2005). In 1976, a group of teenagers ran 1.2 miles as fast as they could. Twenty-five years later, the faster runners had far lower blood pressures than the slower runners. The data was corrected for body fat, so weight gain would not explain the higher blood pressures in the slower runners. High blood pressure increases risk for death from heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage, and diabetes.

The ability to run long distances fast depends on training, so the faster teenagers were in better shape than the slower runners, and fit teenagers are far more likely than out-of-shape teenagers to exercise in later life. If you exercise regularly when you are young, you will be more likely to continue exercising regularly when you are older which can prolong your life.

There are many other reasons to encourage your child to be active in sports. For example, college admissions officers look for students who excel in a specific skill or activity. A student who has an outstanding record in his or her sport will have an advantage over other students. Top athletes with average grades often are accepted at the finest universities.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Will cooling down after a hard workout help my muscles recover faster?

You should not stop suddenly after running very fast or doing any other very intense exercise, because it may cause you to pass out. However, cooling down does not keep your muscles from getting sore or shorten your recovery time.

When you run, your leg muscles serve as a second heart. When your leg muscles relax, the veins near them fill up with blood. When your leg muscles contract, they push against the veins near them and squeeze the blood toward your heart. If you exercise vigorously and stop suddenly, the leg muscles stop contracting and blood can pool in your legs, so not enough blood passes to your brain and you can get dizzy or even pass out. When you slow down gradually, you allow time for your heart to pump harder to make up for the loss of pumping by your legs. But cooling down does not prevent muscle soreness, which is caused by tearing your muscle fibers during exercise.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Other than taste, what's the difference between green and black olives?

Nutritionally, there is virtually no difference. Fresh olives are too bitter to eat, so they are always cured with brine, oil, lye or salt. Green olives become black if they are oxidized during the curing process (with air bubbled through the vat.) Enjoy whichever type tastes best to you.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: I’m starting an exercise program. Should I invest in a heart rate monitor?

Some people enjoy using a heart rate monitor and find that it helps to motivate them, but you don’t need one. You can tell how fast your heart is beating just by paying attention to how you breathe. The only heart rate that you need to know is the training heart rate that makes your heart stronger. To strengthen your heart, you have to exercise vigorously enough to increase your heart rate at least 20 beats a minute beyond your resting heart rate. You can tell when your heart rate is high enough to strengthen your heart because your body will require more oxygen than it does at rest, and you will start to breathe deeply and more rapidly. You should still feel comfortable and be able to talk. If you exercise so slowly that you never breathe more deeply or rapidly than your resting rate, you are not strengthening your heart. However, you don’t have to exercise at your maximum heart rate to become fit.

When you have been exercising for several months and your exercise program feels easy, you can decide whether you want to improve. If you would like to compete or just want to increase your level of fitness, a heart rate monitor can help you plan your training sessions, set goals, and measure your progress.

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Recipe of the Week
Here’s the challenge: Arm in a cast, can’t chop, can’t even open a can. How can you make a tasty meal? Try:

One-Arm Seafood Chili

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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