Vigorous exercise makes muscles sore for a day or two


April 13, 1993|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,Contributing Writer/ United Feature Syndicate

It is common for your muscles to hurt for 24 to 48 hours after you exercise. A recent study from the University of Texas at Galveston showed that you can decrease the soreness by taking the aspirin-like compound ibuprofen before you exercise, but doing so can interfere with your training.

Your muscles are supposed to hurt for a day or two after you exercise vigorously, but not after you exercise at a leisurely pace. Many people learn this early in their training, but if they don't exercise intensely in training, they do not improve. You can't exercise intensely every day. If you try to do this, your muscles start to break down and you become weaker, rather than stronger.

Post-exercise muscle soreness is a valuable gauge to measure your training. Most athletes set up their training programs so they exercise vigorously enough to make their muscles sore for about 48 hours. They exercise vigorously on one day and go easy for the next few days until their muscles stop feeling sore.

Scientists can determine the amount of muscle damage from training by measuring levels of muscle enzymes that are released into the bloodstream when the muscles are damaged. Ibuprofen does not lower the levels of muscle enzymes that are released. So, this recent study shows that taking ibuprofen prior to exercise helps to prevent muscle soreness, but it does not hasten healing, and therefore it does not help athletes to recover faster so they can do more work.

Are natural vitamin pills more effective than regular vitamins?

There is no evidence that healthy people need to take vitamin pills, but if you want to take them, you should at least know what you're doing. When "natural" appears on the vitamin label, it has no meaning. All vitamins are chemically the same whether they are extracted from rose hips or are manufactured in a lab.

Starch-free, sugar-free, yeast-free and preservative-free vitamins offer no advantage because starch, sugar,yeast and approved preservatives are safe and are found frequently in the foods that you eat. Starch and sugar help to mask the unpleasant taste of some vitamins. Vitamins that are extracted from yeast are perfectly safe, and preservatives help to keep vitamins from breaking down.

There is no advantage to "timed release" vitamins because all vitamins are absorbed through your intestines. It doesn't matter whether the vitamin is absorbed in the first few feet of the intestine or the last few feet. However, large doses of niacin can make you itch, so a timed-release vitamin can slow absorption and help to prevent itching. The vast majority of vitamin pills are safe, but very few people need them.

I'm not terribly overweight, but I have a beer belly. My doctor says that increases my risk of a heart attack. What can I do?

Right now you should be on a low-fat diet, but in the future you may take testosterone. A new study in the International Journal of Obesity shows that the male hormone may help to prevent heart attacks in older men.

Men go into a type of menopause, even though it may be more gradual than that of women. A man's blood level of testosterone may drop more than 40 percent from ages 50 to 70. Men who deposit fat primarily in their bellies are far more likely to suffer from heart attacks than men testosterone? Only good things. It reduces their belly fat and lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar.

Testosterone normally raises cholesterol and increases a man's chances of developing a heart attack. Having a lot of belly fat causes dietary fat to be shunted to the liver, which converts it to cholesterol that forms fatty plaques that plug up arteries. However, testosterone reduces body fat and increases muscle. So, the testosterone reduced fat throughout the body and, in particular, reduced the amount of fat in the belly. With less belly fat, less dietary fat is shunted to the liver to be converted to cholesterol. So blood levels of cholesterol drop.

Dr. Mirkin is a practicing physician in Silver Spring specializing in sports medicine and nutrition.

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