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Air Conditioning Helps Recovery

A study from the University of Montana in Missoula shows that athletes recover from hard workouts faster in room temperatures of 72 F than in 91 F (International Journal of Sports Medicine, August 2010). Nine male participants completed one- hour time trials at 91 degrees F, followed by recovery in rooms at 91 degrees F or 72 degrees F. They were given recovery carbohydrate beverages at zero and two hours. Four hours after the time trial, the athletes in the air conditioned room had much higher muscle glycogen levels (105 vs 88 mmol/kg).

Intense exercise causes the soreness that signals muscle damage that is necessary for muscle growth. Intense exercise also depletes your muscles of glycogen. The faster you replace glycogen, the quicker you recover and the sooner you can exercise intensely again. Athletes who can take the most intense workouts with adequate recoveries improve the most. This study shows that in hot weather, you will replace used-up muscle glycogen faster in air conditioning than at higher temperatures.

Dear Dr. Mirkin: Last week you said that ice delays healing; is there any harm in using ice when my muscles are just sore?

Ice reduces pain and does not prevent healing, it only delays healing. If you don't have an injury, there is probably no harm in using ice to relieve sore muscles, but you may be delaying recovery by icing muscles after intense workouts.

Applying ice to an injury delays healing because cold blocks macrophages from releasing IGF-1 into injured tissue and IGF-1 is necessary for healing. You can use ice to reduce pain if it is worth delaying healing by 12 to 24 hours. You receive no known benefit from applying ice to an injury more than 24 hours after it occurs.

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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Can a person's hair turn grey overnight? Both Thomas More(1535) and Marie Antoinette (1793) were reported to have their hair turn white on the night before their executions.

You would think that hair can't suddenly turn white because the hair you see is dead. Hair grows slowly from deep in your skin, with the growing hair under the skin pushing the visible ends forward. So the only living hair is underneath the skin, while all the hair that you see above the surface is dead and cannot change color. Hair gets its color from cells containing a pigment called melanin, which is found only in living hairs underneath your skin. You develop gray hair when the living cells underneath your skin stop making melanin, and this happens slowly with aging. So some hairs will be their normal color, but some, the ones without melanin, will be completely white. There is no such thing as grey- colored hair. Grey hair is dark hairs with white hairs mixed in.

A medical condition called alopecia areata can cause hair to fall out overnight. One day a person may have a full head of hair, and the next, he may have only half as many hairs as he had the previous day. If you are at an age when you have a lot of white hair mixed in with your dark hairs, you would still appear to have dark hair because the dark hairs are far more visible. People who lose hair suddenly because of diffuse alopecia areata lose almost exclusively dark hair, but not the white hair, because the disease causes mostly the dark hairs to fall out. Thus a person who has lost most of his black hair and very little of his white hair, will have the gray of the combination of black and white suddenly turn to just white overnight.

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Recipe of the Week:

Butternut Squash Casserole

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 21st, 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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