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Competitive Athletes and Doping

An important article in the May 19, 2017 New York Times discusses the latest accusations that some of America's top athletes are using supplements, both legal and illegal, in the hope that they will improve athletic performance. I will present a brief review of some of the supplements that the accused U.S. athletes are taking and comment on their effectiveness or worthlessness, side effects and potential dangers to their health.

Exercise Really Does Help You

Researchers reviewed eight studies that used accelerometers to follow 36,383 adults, 40 years of age and older, for six years. They found that exercising regularly, regardless of intensity, was associated with reduced risk for death during the study period, while sitting for more than nine hours a day was associated with increased risk of death.

How to Walk Faster

To become fit you need to exercise vigorously enough to increase your heart rate by at least 20 beats a minute. Walking slowly doesn't make you fit.

Good News for Male Cyclists

Cycling is not associated with increased risk for impotence or urinary symptoms. The largest and best study on the subject to date shows that serious cyclists are no more likely to suffer impotence or urinary problems than swimmers or runners.

Cold Weather May Help You Lose Weight

A new study shows that exposing mice to cold temperatures increases their body’s production of calorie-burning "brown fat" (Molecular Cell, published online Jan. 8, 2015). You have two types of fat in your body: • white fat that your body stores when you eat too much or exercise too little, and • brown fat...

Exercise Promotes Good Gut Bacteria

Good bacteria that live in your gut can help to keep you healthy, while the bad colon bacteria increase your risk for heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, certain cancers and autoimmune diseases. Exercise encourages the growth of good bacteria in your colon and reduces the number of bad ones.

Strengthen Quad Muscles to Help Your Knees

Having weak quad muscles (in the front of your upper legs) increases risk for damage to the cartilage in your knees. A study from Purdue University showed that strengthening these muscles slows down knee cartilage damage and may even improve knee function.

Benefits of Exercise from a Pill?

Don't believe that you can gain the benefits of exercise without exercising. Many products are promoted to give people bigger muscles and make them better athletes, as well as to help them lose weight and prevent diabetes and heart attacks. They are sold to unsuspecting consumers without needing prescriptions. These products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are likely to be ineffective or even harmful.

Interval Training for Sports

If you want to compete in sports that require speed, such as running, cycling, swimming, skiing, skating, or team sports such as football, basketball, baseball or hockey, you have to train at a pace fast enough to exceed your lactic acid threshold. Lactic acid threshold is the pace that causes lactic acid to...

Isometric Exercise

Can you become very strong by doing isometric exercises in which you push against something that doesn't move, such as a wall? The single stimulus to make a muscle stronger is to exercise a muscle against a resistance; therefore, you can become strong by doing isometric exercises. However, there are two drawbacks: isometrics can...

Helmets Save Lives

A study from Imperial College in London shows that increased use of helmets by bicycle riders has markedly reduced head injuries (1). Do you know why woodpeckers don't damage their brains when they peck on wood? Their skulls fit so tightly that they don't allow the brain to move inside. Human skulls are enclosed...

Placebos to Race Faster

Fifteen endurance-trained runners, average age 27, ran three kilometers (1.8 miles) 1.2% faster after injecting themselves with a placebo than they did after taking no injections (Med Sci Sports Exerc, published online Nov 19, 2014). The runners were initially evaluated with a 1.8 mile time trial. Then they were randomly distributed to either: • take no...

Walk Faster, Live Longer

The faster you walk, the longer you live. Picking up the pace is more healthful than just walking slowly, even if you go longer than the recommended 30 minutes per day.

How to Jump Higher

When Kent Benson, the former National Basketball Association player, came to the University of Indiana he could jump only 9 inches off the ground. That's an embarrassing jump for a seven-foot All-American. One year later, he was able to jump three times that high because he had a good coach. How high you can...

Plantar Fasciitis

One of the most common injuries in tennis and jogging is plantar fasciitis, pain on the bottom of the heel. A band of tissue called the plantar fascia extends from your five toes, along the bottom of your foot to attach on the bottom of your heel. When you run, you land on your heel and raise yourself on your toes as you shift your weight to your other foot, causing all your weight to be held up by your plantar fascia.

Should Runners and Cyclists Lift Weights?

A review of many scientific articles shows that runners and bicycle racers can run and cycle faster with added strength training because it makes them stronger, so that they can run and cycle more efficiently with less effort. However, the improvement in racing performance with added weightlifting is small, and sometimes nonexistent, because lifting weights does not improve VO2max (the ability to take in and use oxygen).

Stress Fractures – Prevention and Treatment

If you are an exerciser and develop a sharp pain on a bone that hurts when you press directly on that spot and does not hurt to touch an inch away, you probably have a stress fracture. Stress fractures are very common injuries, particularly in runners.

Can You Exercise Too Much?

Countless studies have shown that exercise helps to prevent heart attacks, but some researchers have found scarring in heart muscle and increased plaques in the heart arteries of men who have run many marathons and triathlons, resulting in news headlines warning of "too much exercise."

How Exercise Affects Your Immunity

Several recent studies show that if you don't follow your hard workouts with easy ones, you may suppress your immunity to increase risk for developing infections such as colds and increase your chances of injuring yourself.

Lack of Vitamin D May Harm Exercisers

A study in mice suggests that having low levels of vitamin D may harm athletes and exercisers by limiting how long they can exercise. Many exercisers and competitive athletes are vitamin D deficient even if they live in the sunbelt.

Sitting Will Not Harm Vigorous Exercisers

I think that asking people to stand at work, rather than sit, is harmful advice because standing and not moving is no better than sitting and is just going to make you too tired to exercise vigorously when you are not working.

How to Start a Running Program

If you think you would enjoy jogging or running, here's how to get started. First, check with your doctor and get a good pair of running shoes. Start out by jogging slowly until your legs feel heavy or hurt or you feel tired.

Spot Reduction Doesn’t Work

You'll see lots of exercise programs, devices and machines in television commercials that claim to get rid of fat from your belly. While they can strengthen your belly muscles, there is no such thing as spot reduction. When you take in more calories than your body burns, you store them as fat. Some people...

Prepare for a Marathon

Many marathon runners think that they have to run 100 miles a week to compete successfully, but most will be able to run a marathon faster if they run fewer than 50 miles a week. Top marathon runners can run 100 miles a week and not be injured because of their superior genes.

You Can’t Be Too Fit

Dramatic results in a new study from the Cleveland Clinic show that you can't be too fit, and that not exercising is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes or heart disease.

Can Intense Exercise Increase Your Risk for a Heart Attack?

The American Heart Association has cautioned that, "Exercise, particularly when performed by unfit individuals, can acutely increase the risk of sudden cardiac death and acute myocardial infarction in susceptible people." However, a recent review of 48 research articles found no reduction in lifespan, no matter how much a person exercises

Do You Need a Heart Rate Monitor?

All maximum heart rate formulae are based on averages. They can be used to help you plan and monitor your exercise program, but they should not be interpreted as absolute limits or goals. Your maximum heart rate may differ from these averages. Whether you are a competitive athlete or an ordinary exerciser, you really do not need a heart rate monitor.

Cooling Down After Intense Exercise

"Cooling down" means that after you exercise intensely, you slow down and exercise at low intensity for a while before you stop exercising for that session. The scientific literature is controversial on whether cooling down helps to reduce next-day muscle soreness to help muscles to recover faster.

Lack of Fitness, Not Too Much Sitting, Shortens Lives

A new study suggests that it is the level of fitness, not time spent sitting, that predicts susceptibility to disease and longevity.

Short Intervals are Best

Interval training means that you alternate bursts of intense exercise with slow exercise until you feel tired. Short intervals are defined as lasting less than 30 seconds each, while long intervals usually last more than two minutes each. The most efficient, time-saving and health-benefiting way to exercise is to use short intervals