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High Blood Pressure During Exercise

A study from Johns Hopkins shows that people who develop very high blood pressure during exercise are the ones most likely to develop high blood pressure in later years (American Journal of Hypertension, April 2004). These people have arteries that do not expand as much as normal arteries when blood is pumped to them.

When your heart beats, it squeezes blood from inside its chambers to the large arteries. This sudden bolus of blood causes normal arteries to expand like balloons do when they fill with air. The walls of arteries have sensors that allow arteries to expand with each pulse of blood. If the arteries do not expand enough when blood enters them, blood pressure can rise very high. Blood pressure is determined by the force of the heart's contraction times the resistance in the blood vessels. Normal blood pressure is 120 when the heart contracts and 80 when it relaxes. During exercise, the heart beats with increased force to raise blood pressure. It is normal for blood pressure to rise up to 200 over 80 during running, and to 300 over 200 while doing a leg press with very heavy weights.

People with normal resting blood pressures who develop very high blood pressure during exercise are the ones most likely to develop high blood pressure later on. If your blood pressure rises much above 200 during running, you are at increased risk for developing high blood pressure.

Ninety percent of Americans will develop high blood pressure, which increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage and sudden death. High blood pressure usually occurs in people who have normal blood pressures when they were young. If you have an exaggerated blood pressure rise during exercise, you should go on a heart attack prevention program that includes a diet low in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, regular exercise, losing weight if you are overweight, not smoking, and avoiding stimulants and drugs that raise blood pressure.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: Why do bicycle seats have to be so uncomfortable?

Bicycle seats are shaped like bananas because bicycle racers don’t want any structure behind their legs. Many claim that wide seats prevent them from extending their legs backward to achieve a full pedal stroke. Because many bicycle riders want to look like racers, bikes come equipped with banana-shaped seats and many people hate riding a bicycle because they lose feeling in their pelvis when they ride. Irwin Goldstein, professor of urology at the Boston University School of Medicine, claims that 100,000 American men become impo*tent, some permanently, because they ride a bicycle. He claims that the seat presses on the pudendal nerves, crushes them and prevents messages from traveling along the nerves, causing impo*tence. He also says that "Men should never ride bicycles. Riding should be banned and outlawed. It's the most irrational form of exercise . . ."

As far as most bicycle seats are concerned, Dr. Goldstein is correct. Your sitz bones (ischial tuberosities) are located on each side where you sit. Muscles attach on them and they are covered with fat to protect them from pressure. A sensible bicycle seat supports the sitz bones and exerts no pressure on the center of the pelvis where the pudendal nerve travels toward the male or female organs. Seats that have a hole in the middle don't help because the front part where the hole ends still presses on the pudendal nerve. The most comfortable seats for an upright bicycle are wide in the back and have little or no nose. Another option is a recumbent bicycle, with a seat like a chair.

The nose-less seat that Diana and I use and recommend is available through . You can save shipping costs by having your local bike store order one for you (if they don't have them in stock.)


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Does it make any difference what kind of food I eat during a long race?

Eating foods that contain both carbohydrates and proteins during any long competition increases an athlete's endurance more than taking just carbohydrates. When you exercise vigorously for more than two hours, you need to take extra fluid, salt and calories. You should drink whatever fluid tastes best to you, and eat any food that includes salt. Many studies show that taking in extra carbohydrates during an event prolongs endurance, so athletes often eat oranges and other fruits, cookies, sandwiches and other carbohydrate-rich foods. You will have even greater endurance if you also eat some high- protein foods such as cheese, meat, chicken, fish or eggs. During prolonged, intense exercise your muscles are damaged, and the extra protein supplies the building blocks called amino acids that can help to limit muscle breakdown.


Fruit isn’t just for dessert or snacks! It’s easy to get your five or more servings a day when you use fruit in main dishes, salads and soups. For example – try these recipes that include PINEAPPLE.
Seafood Kabobs
Pineapple-Shrimp Grains
Tropical Wild Rice Medley
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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