Hard-easy exercise routine risk of injury


June 15, 1993|By Dr. Gabe Mirkin | Dr. Gabe Mirkin,Contributing Writer United Feature Syndicate

The day after you exercise intensely, expect to feel sore and unable to exercise as comfortably as you did the previous day. Will you recover faster by exercising at a relaxed pace or by taking the day off?

You recover faster from a particularly hard workout by taking the day off, but athletes training for competition don't usually do that. They exercise at a relaxed pace because it helps their muscles handle harder workouts in the future.

Training for all sports involves the hard-easy principle. You stress your body with a hard workout on one day and allow it to recover by exercising at a relaxed pace on the next. If you try to exercise intenselywhen your muscles are still sore, you increase your chances of injuring yourself.

How does this apply to you? If you are exercising for fun and don't feel any need to improve, you can exercise at a leisurely pace every day and take days off whenever your muscles feel sore. If you are training for competition, you should exercise intensely on one day and then exercise at a leisurely pace the following day or until your muscles feel fresh again. Some hard workouts are so intense that they require several days of easy workouts afterward, while other hard workouts can be done every other day.

Q: What is your opinion about using progesterone with estrogen therapy after menopause?

A: Gynecologists have argued for years about whether postmenopausal women need to take progesterone in addition to estrogen. A new study from the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that they should.

When a woman stops menstruating permanently and loses estrogen, she suffers from hot flashes, vaginal dryness and a weakening of bones called osteoporosis. All of these symptoms can be prevented by taking estrogen.

However, taking estrogen alone can cause uterine cancer. Estrogen stimulates the inner lining of the uterus to grow. The second hormone, progesterone, stops the stimulations. A woman who has only estrogen has her uterus stimulated all the time, and that can lead to uncontrolled growth -- cancer. So all women who have a uterus should take progesterone, in addition to estrogen, at the time of menopause.

Many doctors will not give women progesterone if they do not have a uterus. This recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirms previous studies which show that estrogen helps to prevent heart attacks and when women take progesterone in addition to estrogen, it helps to prevent heart attacks even more.

Most gynecologists recommend estrogen to women in menopause except those who have uterine or breast cancer or a history of forming clots. This study should encourage them to recommend progesterone to help prevent heart attacks.

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

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