Subscribe to Dr. Mirkin's free FITNESS & HEALTH NEWSLETTER      

Cold-Weather Exercise Tips

You feel cold most in your fingers, ears and toes. To help keep your hands warm on very cold days, wear an inner layer of thin gloves made from loosely-woven material that permits sweat to pass through. Gloves allow you to control your fingers better than mittens when you shift gears or use ski poles.

Our New Tandem Ti-Trike

Ever since we got our first tandem trike and installed the electric motor, we have been looking for someone who would build us a custom trike. Three months ago we met the makers of Ti-Trikes at a bike show and were impressed with their all-titanium single trikes. They had never built a tandem trike but agreed to do one for us, incorporating their many design innovations as well as our specifications. They brought us our new tandem trike two weeks ago, and we are delighted.

Slow Lifting

If you want to become very strong, you have to lift weights heavy enough to make your muscles burn. It doesn't make any difference whether you move the weights slowly or rapidly. Just exercise intensely enough so your muscles feel sore the next day.

Bicycles Are Most Energy Efficient

A positive outcome of the many COVID-19 restrictions has been a huge boom in bicycling. If you are a regular cyclist or are new to the sport, be proud. Humans riding on bicycles are more energy-efficient than any other form of transportation and any other animal. Vance Tucker of Duke University compared bicyclists to people and animals running, birds flying and fish swimming, as well as to people in motor-powered cars, boats, trains and planes

Even a 100-Year-Old Can Improve with Training

You can improve athletic performance at any age with proper training, even if you are over 100 years old. Traditional feeling among scientists is that aging is progressive and inevitable, and that your genetic programming causes you to age no matter what you do. This paper shows that physical training can reverse established markers of aging.

Calculate Your Fitness Age

VO2max can be used to predict a person’s risk of premature death from a heart attack. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have developed a simple way to estimate a person’s VO2max, his maximal ability to take in and use oxygen.

Get Stronger in 30 Minutes a Week

Most competitive bodybuilders spend hours trying to do many sets over and over again. You don't need to do that. Various studies show that you can gain up to 80 percent of your maximum strength by picking out four to eight specific lifts, lifting one set of ten of the heaviest weight in each, and repeating your program two or three times a week.

Keep Moving for a Longer and Better Life

Everyone should try to keep on moving their muscles every day. Sitting around for long periods of time can cause you to become diabetic and increase your risk for a heart attack, and lying in bed for long periods puts you at increased risk for heart failure and premature death

Mild Dehydration Does Not Impair Exercise

There is no data anywhere to show that mild dehydration affects health or athletic performance. Fit humans can tolerate significant fluid loss before their performance suffers, and most cases of muscle cramps are not caused by dehydration or salt loss.

Should You Carry Weights during Exercise?

The only advantage to exercising while carrying weights is that you can get more exercise while moving slowly. To strengthen your heart, you have to exercise vigorously enough to increase your heart rate at least 20 beats a minute above resting.

Resistance Exercise You Can Do at Home

Resistance exercise is the best way to slow down the loss of muscle strength that occurs with aging, and I believe that everyone should do some type of resistance exercise (moving your muscles against an opposing force) as part of their regular exercise program.

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."

NSAIDs Interfere with Exercise Training

Some athletes and exercisers use pain medication, such as ibuprofin (Advil, Motrin) and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), because they think it will help them to recover faster from muscle soreness so they will be able to do more training and become better athletes. NSAIDs do not prevent DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

Sarcopenia of Aging: Loss of Muscle Size and Strength

Aging causes you to lose strength, no matter how much you exercise. Muscles are made up of hundreds of thousands of individual fibers, like a rope is made up of many strands. Each muscle fiber is innervated by a single motor nerve. With aging you lose motor nerves, and with each loss of a nerve, you also lose the corresponding muscle fiber that it innervates.

Your Muscles Make Your Heart Stronger

When you contract your skeletal muscles, they squeeze the veins near them to pump extra blood back to your heart. The extra blood flowing back to your heart fills up your heart, which stretches your heart muscle, causing the heart muscle to contract with greater force and pump more blood back your body.

How to Avoid Overtraining

Athletes and serious exercisers can get into an overtraining syndrome in which they become injured or suffer frequent infections, feel exhausted, don't perform up to their usual levels, and even lose interest in training.  One of the most difficult problems for athletes is knowing when they are training too much.   You make a muscle stronger...

Support Stockings

Elastic compression stockings have no effect whatever on exercise, according to a study from France (European Journal of Applied Physiology, July 2006). They neither increase nor decrease endurance, strength, speed, recovery, or blood flow to the limbs.

High Blood Sugar Limits Benefits from Exercise

A study from Harvard Medical School shows that a high rise in blood sugar after meals can limit increases in your ability to take in and use oxygen during exercise. This means that if your diet causes high blood sugar levels when you eat, you lose one of the major health benefits of exercise.

Sugar for Prolonged, Hard Exercise

If you are going to exercise at a relaxed pace for a few hours, you rarely need to eat or drink unless you feel hungry or thirsty. However, if you are going to compete in sports or exercise intensely for more than 70 minutes, you should take sugar just before you start and while you exercise.

Should You Carry Weights while Walking or Jogging?

The only advantage to exercising while carrying weights is that you can get more exercise while moving slowly. To strengthen your heart, you have to exercise vigorously enough to increase your heart rate at least 20 beats a minute above resting. How fast your heart beats depends on how much blood it has to pump to your body.

Temperature During Exercise

You sweat more after you finish exercising than you do while you exercise. More than 70 percent of the energy that powers your muscles is lost as heat, causing your body temperature to rise during exercise. To keep your body temperature from rising too high, your heart pumps the heat in your blood from your muscles to your skin

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

To make muscles stronger, you need to exercise intensely enough to damage the muscles. You can tell that you are damaging muscles when you exercise vigorously enough to feel soreness in those muscles eight to 24 hours later, which is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS.

How Protein Builds Muscles

Many body builders and weight lifters are overly concerned about what they eat and what food supplements they take. If you want to grow larger and stronger muscles, it helps to understand how food can help your training program. Anything that helps you recover faster from a hard workout will allow you to do more work to make you stronger. Scientists have known for years that you recover faster by eating immediately after you finish your hard workout.

Some Athletes will Always Cheat to Win

Taking drugs that can harm you gives athletes a major unfair advantage over other athletes who do not take drugs. Many athletes at the highest level of sports are taking drugs that can harm them and this practice is extremely unlikely to diminish in the future.

Weak Muscles Increase Risk for Dementia

Many studies show that having excess fat in your belly is associated with increased risk for dementia, but a new study shows that as a person ages, lack of muscle size and strength appears to be an even stronger predictor of dementia than having excess belly fat.

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.

More Reasons to Exercise as You Grow Older

Muscles are made up of thousands of muscle fibers just as a rope is made up of many strands. Each muscle fiber has a nerve that innervates it. With aging you can lose nerve fibers that, in turn, cause you to lose the corresponding muscle fibers, but exercising against resistance will make the remaining muscle fibers larger so they can generate more force. The repetition of a regular and consistent training program teaches your brain how to contract your muscles more efficiently.

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.

Muscle Stimulating Machines

Advertisements on television claim that you can wrap a special belt around your belly, plug it into an electric outlet, turn on the electricity, and then watch your belly muscles contract to give you rock-hard belly muscles. You can bet that the beautiful people who demonstrate the machines on television didn't get their belly muscles...

Don’t Just Sit at Any Age

Older people who move around live longer than those who are consistently sedentary, and sedentary older people who become more active live longer than those who remain sedentary.