The best athletes aspire to perspire for efficient cooling

Fitness Q & A

Health & Fitness

December 28, 2003|By Gailor Large | Gailor Large,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When I play one-on-one basketball with a friend, he always sweats more than I do (even though he's in much better shape). Is it true that it's the fittest athletes who sweat the most?

Sweating is a mechanism the body uses to prevent itself from overheating. While genetics play a big part, our fitness level is another factor that affects how much we sweat.

It's true that the more conditioned your body becomes, the more efficient it is as a cooling system. A fit body begins sweating early to keep body temperature down and allow it to continue performing at a high level. Someone who is out of shape might sweat profusely, but this is generally a reaction to elevated body temperature rather than a preventative measure.

Why is dark chocolate healthier than milk chocolate?

While I wouldn't go so far as to call any kind of chocolate "healthy," it's true that dark chocolate has benefits that milk chocolate doesn't have. Dark chocolate has been proven to raise antioxidant levels in the body, for instance, bolstering the immune system.

So what's missing in milk chocolate? According to researchers, it's actually what's added that is the problem. Many scientists believe that protein in the milk is to blame. Studies show that it binds to the antioxidants, making them useless in staving off infections. Dark chocolate also may increase HDL levels (good cholesterol). Bottom line: if you're going to indulge, better to reach for the dark.

What is the best way to break up a workout on the treadmill? Is it better to do shorter high-intensity intervals with shorter breaks in between, or longer high-intensity intervals with longer breaks?

Interval training, in which you alternate periods of moderate and intense activity, is a great way to maximize exercise time. Accord-ing to the November 2003 issue of Consumer Reports on Health, "The length of each interval doesn't really matter: Whether you do many short segments of vigorous activity or one or two long segments, it's the total of each type of exercise that counts."

Remember, the point of interval training is to allow the body time to refuel so that it has energy for the next intense stretch. Better to sprint for three minutes and then jog for five (with energy left to continue) than to sprint for the full eight and have to stop altogether.

Do you have a fitness question? Write to Fitness, The Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278. You can also fax questions to 410-783-2519 or e-mail fitness@baltsun.com.

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