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For April 19, 2018

  • Tips and Tricks for Off-Road Running
    Tips and Tricks for Off-Road Running

    Andrea Moore, a 36-year-old optometrist and lifelong road runner, hit the trails of the Santa Monica Mountains one day five years ago to give her pavement-pounded knees a break. She's never looked back. "I fell in love with the dirt," Moore says. "On trails it's such an adventure every time you run that it doesn't even seem like exercise." Now she gets her runner's high higher up, logging 30 miles a week, all off-road.

    There are thousands of stories like Moore's. Combining the exhilaration of the great outdoors with the promise of softer landings, trail running has become one of America's fastest-growing sports. With off-road hot spots in California, Colorado and the Northeast leading the way, the number of trail races has doubled over the last two years, to nearly 600.

    But while embracing the dirt would seem as easy as lacing up a pair of off-road shoes, trail running is as different from road running as mountain biking is from road cycling. To get the most out of trail time, you actually need to relearn the world's easiest sport. "You've got to run with a different technique and a different attitude," says Ann Trason, the nine-time winner of the Western States 100, one of the most prestigious off-road races. Below are some pointers to hit the ground running:

    • Narrow your vision. Roadies can space out, but since trails aren't made of perfectly groomed asphalt, off-roaders need to stay focused. Look two steps ahead and down on rolling terrain. Crouch while running. Keep legs slightly bent to lower your center of gravity � it keeps you from falling and lets you move easily around obstacles. "I think of it like dancing," says Danelle Ballengee, one of the nation's best high-altitude racers.
    • Heads up on climbs. They're an uphill struggle unless you keep your head tilted up, allowing maximum oxygen into your lungs, critical at high elevation.
    • Toes down on descents. Watch the ground carefully and land each step on toes and forefoot for optimum control.
    • Water is life. With no 7-Elevens in the mountains, runners need to pack hydration systems to keep the vultures from circling.
    • Time, not mileage. Roadies measure performance by miles pounded, but trail runners should gauge theirs by time spent on the trail. "It's a change of mind-set," says Ben Hian, a top trail racer. Translation: If basking in nature doesn't change your mileage mentality, the lack of markers in the woods most definitely will.

    Adapted from Cond� Nast Sports for Women, February 1998

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  • Study: Foods rich in vitamin E offer some lung cancer protection
    Study: Foods rich in vitamin E offer some lung cancer protection

    WASHINGTON (AP) - A diet rich in vitamin E foods such as nuts and whole grains can lower the risk of lung cancer among smokers by about 20 percent, a new study says.

    In the study of more than 29,000 male smokers in Finland, researchers found that those who had high blood levels of alpha-tocopherol, the main form of vitamin E, reduced their incidence of lung cancer by 19 percent to 23 percent.

    The benefits were most dramatic, the study found, among men under age 60 and among light smokers who had been using cigarettes for less than 40 years. The reduction in lung cancer risk in these groups was from 40 percent to 50 percent.

    But despite the encouraging finding, said Dr. Demetrius Albanes of the National Cancer Institute, the most beneficial health action smokers can take is still the same: Stop smoking.

    "We have to emphasize that not only for lung cancer, but for oral cancer, pancreas cancer, kidney cancer and a bunch of other cancers, stopping smoking is crucial," said Albanes, the senior author of the study being published Wednesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

    In the study, which lasted for almost eight years, researchers took periodic blood samples to measure the levels of alpha-tocopherol, the most active form of vitamin E in humans. The levels of alpha-tocopherol were then linked to health outcomes among the men in the study. There were 1,144 cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the group during the study.

    The lung cancer rate reduced among men with the highest levels of alpha-tocopherol, said Albanes, and the cancer protection was most pronounced among men with the shortest history of smoking who also had high vitamin E levels.

    Although the new study involved only smokers and lung cancer, earlier studies have shown that healthy levels of vitamin E give some protection against heart disease, stroke and some other types of cancer, such as prostate cancer.

    Albanes said the proven benefits came only from a balanced diet that included food rich in vitamin E, he said. The researchers drew no conclusions about the effect of vitamin pills taken by some of the men in the study.

    In effect, he said the proven benefits of vitamin E come from eating the right foods, not from popping vitamin pills.

    "We need more studies to compare supplements with natural diet sources of vitamin E," he said, noting that there are still uncertainties about the comparative value of vitamin pills vs. nutrients absorbed naturally from foods.

    For instance, some studies have shown that beta carotene, an antioxidant found in foods such as carrots, can help prevent some forms of cancer. Yet, when beta carotene pills were given to the group of Finnish smokers, the rate of lung cancer actually increased by 16 percent.

    Albanes said that vitamin E-rich foods include soybean oil and other seed oils; nuts, particularly almonds, filberts, hazelnuts and walnuts, sunflower seeds and whole grains, including wheat germ.

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  • Some alcohol good?
    Some alcohol good?

    DALLAS (CNN) -- Consuming two to six alcoholic drinks per week can greatly reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death, according to a new report from researchers at Harvard Medical School.

    The Physicians' Health Study used data from 21,537 men over a 12-year period. Researchers found that men who had two to four drinks per week lessened their risk for sudden cardiac death by 60 percent. Those who had five to six drinks per week lowered their risk by 79 percent.

    Though some alcohol is good, more may not be better. Rates of sudden cardiac death increased among people who had more than two drinks per day, the study found.

    The research did not look at drinking patterns. However, it is generally agreed among scientists that binge drinking, or drinking large amounts of alcohol in brief periods, can cause abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to sudden cardiac death.

    Though the study's findings are considered significant, its authors are not recommending that people start drinking.

    "Based on the data, I wouldn't recommend that non-drinkers start drinking," said Christine M. Albert, M.D., lead researcher. "One has to consider all the risks and benefits of drinking alcohol. You don't know how likely a person is to become addicted to alcohol, and there is also the risk of cancer to consider."

    Previous studies have found that heavy alcohol consumption may increase an individual's risk of certain types of cancer.

    "Consuming two or more drinks per day has been associated with an increased breast cancer risk in women. This study was done only in men, so we can't be sure if our results would apply to women as well," said Albert.

    Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is responsible for about half of all deaths from heart disease, the nation's biggest killer. SCD is usually caused by irregular heart rhythms. Heart attack, the death of heart muscle due to loss of blood supply, rarely causes SCD.

    Prior studies have pointed to a similar beneficial effect of alcohol when consumed in moderate amounts. This study, however, is the largest to date. It is published in the American Heart Association's journal, Circulation.

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  • The Truth About the Risks of Tanning Beds
    The Truth About the Risks of Tanning Beds

    Many people think tanning beds are a harmless way to get a tan, especially if they already have a base tan. The truth is, no tan is healthy for your skin, whether obtained at the beach or using indoor tanning lamps.

    Tanning beds are often touted as being safe because they emit mainly ultraviolet A (UVA) radiation, compared to more harmful ultraviolet B (UVB) rays emitted by the sun. But UVA radiation from tanning salon lamps penetrates deeper into the inner layer of your skin (dermis). Because you can tan indoors without regard for the weather, tanning beds tend to promote repeated abuse of your skin.

    Even one 15- to 30-minute session can cause red, itchy and dry skin. Long-term effects include sagging, leathery, wrinkled and yellowish skin, increased risk of cataracts and development of light-triggered skin diseases. In addition, UVA rays cause precancerous skin changes such as actinic keratoses. These changes increase your chances for developing skin cancer, including deadly melanoma.

    The idea that a base tan protects you from ultraviolet radiation damage is untrue. At best, a tan provides the screening power of a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 4. That's almost no protection. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends you use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15.

    Copyright 1995-1999, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

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  • Sweating and fat loss.
    Sweating and fat loss.

    Many people think that when they sweat while they're working out they're losing fat. It's not true. When you sweat during your workout you're losing water. If you weigh yourself before your workout and then again afterwards, the difference between the two is water weight, not fat weight.

    How much fat you "lose" during exercise depends on several factors. These include fitness level, body mass, the duration and intensity of your workout, and when you ate your last meal. Wearing plastic pants or a fleece sweat suit won't make you lose fat weight more quickly than if you dress comfortably. Wearing excessive clothing during exercise may interfere with the body's ability to cool itself and result in mild to severe heat illness.

    Another common myth about sweating is that it rids the body of toxins. Sweat is nothing more than water, salts, and ureas. The body isn't detoxified when it sweats; the only thing it gets rid of is water and a few salts.

    Your ability to sweat is not a measure of your fitness. Sweating is nothing more than the most efficient factor in your body's temperature regulation ability. Some people sweat more than others.

    The most effective way for you to keep your "sweat mechanism" healthy is to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. Then you don't have to worry about overheating, dehydrating and feeling awful after you work out!

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  • Does It Matter When I Exercise?
    Does It Matter When I Exercise?

    (MSNBC) It�s true that studies have suggested the body functions more efficiently at different times of the day. Some reports, for instance, have shown that the body�s processes are slowest in the morning. Others have found that in the afternoon, strength and aerobic capacity are greatest, suggesting that it might be best to exercise at this time.

    However, there are two basic principles to exercise that are even more important: If you�re both consistent and patient with your training, you�ll reap the benefits, says Joel Friel, author of �The Cyclist�s Training Bible� and �The Triathlete�s Training Bible.�

    Friel, an exercise science expert, points out that studies done in the past several years have shown that important aspects of a person�s workout are not affected by time of day, such as how long you can go before exhaustion. Perceived effort remains the same throughout the day, too, meaning a workout doesn�t feel harder in the evening than it would in the morning.

    Other factors play a part as well. Pollution is heavier in the afternoon, which may affect your breathing. So running, cycling and other outdoor activities done in the early morning or after the evening rush hour may be better. The hot afternoon sun may also be a factor that makes early morning or evening exercise a better choice.

    The bottom line, says Friel, is that it�s most important to find what time of day works best for you and to commit to a fitness routine. So if exercising at night works best because you work full-time, stick with it.

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