Different strokes for different folks

FITNESS CLINIC

July 12, 1994|By Gabe Mirkin, M.D. | Gabe Mirkin, M.D.,United Feature Syndicate

Competitive cyclists try to pedal at a rate of 90 to 105 revolutions per minute. That doesn't mean that recreational cyclists should pedal that fast.

Competitive cyclists know that the greater the force that they exert on their pedals, the faster they use up their stored muscle sugar and the more quickly they tire. So they ride at lower gears, allowing them to exert less force and spin their pedals at a faster cadence.

However, a recent study from The University of California at Berkeley shows that when people who are not used to pedaling fast try to pedal fast, they do not increase their endurance.

A study from the University of Texas shows that the fastest bicycle racers exert the greatest downstroke power on their pedals. Most bicycle racers do not lift weights with their legs because it causes their muscles to feel sore and lim

its the amount of hard riding that they can do. To strengthen your leg muscles so that you can ride faster, practice climbing hills as fast as you can. Also, once or twice a week, ride shorter distances very fast, spinning your pedals more than 90 times a minute.

My husband and I are trying to follow a low-fat diet. Should I feed my children the same way?

The healthiest diet that you can eat is high in fruits, vegetables, grains and beans, low in fat and not high in protein, but putting children on low-fat, low-protein diets can prevent them from reaching their potential adult height.

Researchers in the Netherlands followed children on macrobiotic diets and ate a vegan diet consisting of grain cereals, land and sea vegetables and small amounts of cooked fruits and occasionally some fish. They ate no meat or diary products. These children were substantially shorter andlighter than children in their area who ate meat and dairy products.

Previous studies were criticized because they evaluated Third World children who were deprived and had a higher incidence of malnutrition and infectious diseases. The children in this study certainly were not deprived as more than 60 percent of their parents were college-educated and held good jobs.

The macrobiotic diet was deficient in fat, protein, calcium and vitamins B-2, B-12 and D. The scientists following these children recommended that they eat more fat from fish, vegetable oils, nuts and seeds; more protein from fish; and more calcium from cruciferous vegetables, nuts and seeds. Two years later, only 6 percent added fish and the children were still much shorter than those not on macrobiotic diets.

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

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