Prepare for skiing

If you plan to ski this winter, start getting ready now. The best way to train for skiing is to ski, but snow isn't always available. To prepare for a skiing vacation, you need to strengthen both your heart muscles and your skeletal muscles. You can strengthen your heart for skiing with any exercise that will raise your heart rate for at least 10 minutes, three times a week. However, to prepare your muscles for skiing, you have to use activities that use your upper legs, such as skating or riding a bicycle. The average bicycle rider is far better prepared for skiing than the average runner. Many joggers who can easily run ten miles find that they can't ski very long because their upper leg muscles tire and hurt after just a few minutes of skiing.

You drive yourself forward in skiing with the muscles in your upper legs. Running stresses primarily the muscles in your lower legs. It does not strengthen the muscles in the upper legs enough to allow the average person to ski for any length of time. Running stresses your upper leg muscles only when you use them to lift you up when you run hard up hills. Since you ski by bouncing up and down on your knees and shushing forward from your hips, the best sports to prepare for skiing are those that stress primarily your thigh and upper leg muscles. You can use the popular indoor exercise machines that mimic cross-country skiing motions, or ski on dry roads with roller-skis. In-line skating or cycling are good choices for outdoor preparation, particularly if you climb lots of hills. Add a weight training program to strengthen your upper body and arms as well as your legs, and you’ll be ready for the snow.

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Recurrent sore throats

If you have recurrent throat infections with staph or strep bacteria, check your toothbrush, your nose and your mate. One study showed that beta strep, which causes rheumatic fever, was grown from toothbrushes of 30 percent of children who were infected with that germ. Beta strep can persist in unwashed toothbrushes for 15 days and in washed toothbrushes for 3 days. Another bacteria called staph aureus can persist in the noses of people even after they have taken the appropriate antibiotic. Having staph in your nose also prevents simple cuts from healing.

Staph grows so luxuriously in the wet nasal membranes that it is difficult to cure by taking oral antibiotics. You can also be re-infected by a mate who has no symptoms at all. If you suffer recurrent staph or strep infections, get a new toothbrush and ask your doctor to culture your nose. If you have a staph aureus infection, apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment such as Bacitracin in your nostrils nightly for several weeks.

Will vinegar help me lose weight?

Vinegar is an excellent preservative and a good household cleaner, but it is not a medicine or a weight-loss drug. Several popular books claim that vinegar prevents cancer and heart disease, lowers high blood pressure and helps you to lose weight, but here is no evidence to support any of these claims. One of the books explains that vinegar helps you to lose weight because oil and vinegar don't mix, so vinegar and your fat won't either.

Vinegar is nothing more than a mixture of 95 percent water and around 5 percent acetic acid, made from grapes, apples, rice, potatoes or other fermented plants. It is very low in calories, but the only way vinegar could possibly help you to lose weight is by causing you to eat lots of salads while you cut back on other sources of calories.

Push-Ups: Train to do the most

If you want to be able to do 100 pushups in a row, do not try to do as many pushups as possible every day. You'll probably injure yourself and end up unable to do any pushups at all. Training for competition requires an understanding of the stress-and-recover rule and the interval-sets rule.

The best way to improve any athletic skill is to stress your body on one day and then allow enough time for your body to recover before you stress it again. On one day, take a hard workout. On the next morning, your muscles feel sore. Take easy workouts until the soreness disappears and then take a hard workout again.

For your hard workouts, you can do far more work by exercising in sets, rather than continuously. If you can do six continuous pushups, you can probably do ten sets of two with twenty-second rests between each set. Do repeat sets of two until your muscles feel sore. Try to take workouts that are hard enough to make your muscles feel sore for no more than 48 hours. An ideal training program would consist of sets of three until you feel sore on the first day, take off the second day, do sets of five on the third day until you feel soreness, and rest on the fourth day. Repeat these four-day cycles, and you'll soon be ready to compete.

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Know when to change sports

If your favorite sport causes chronic pain or an injury that does not heal, you should probably switch to another sport. Two recent studies from the Argentine Tennis Association followed players with knee and shoulder problems (British Journal of Sports Medicine, May 2006). In the first study, men who had anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears showed a great drop in their tennis performance. The knee is just two sticks held together by four bands, called ligaments. Two ligaments are located on the outside of the knee and two ligaments cross in the middle of the knee joint. The ACL runs from the bottom of the upper bone of the knee joint forward to the top of the lower bone of the knee joint. It prevents the upper bone of the knee joint from slipping backward when your knee hits the ground. When this ligament is torn, each foot strike causes the upper bone to slide backward over the lower bone, shears off cartilage in the process and hastens a knee replacement. It is downright dangerous for a person with a torn ACL to play tennis or run until the ligament is replaced. Even then the surgical replacement is not as strong as the original ACL and that person risks joint damage every time he runs, jumps and turns on his knee joint.

The second study followed older men who had played tennis for many years and had no shoulder pain, surgery or trauma to their shoulders. Even with no symptoms, thirty-three percent of these men had significant x-ray findings of joint damage called osteoarthritis in their dominant shoulder, and the older they were, the more likely they were to have this damage. X rays showed increased incidence of joint space narrowing, joint cysts, bone fragments, flattening of the joint cartilage, displacement of the upper arm bone and erosion of the joint cup. If you are a long-time tennis player and have shoulder pain, your doctor will probably recommend that you stop playing tennis.

The good news is that switching to a new sport is much easier than starting from inactivity. Training principles are the same for all sports. Give yourself time to learn new skills and build up the muscles you have not used before.

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