DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 68-year-old male. My exercise routine for a number of years has been a NordicTrack that provides me a chance to run indoors. I recently added weightlifting to my program. I read that one set of exercises will yield the same result as many. I also read that because of a decreased production of testosterone with age, weightlifting more than once a week is a waste of time for older men. Your opinion, please. – W.L.

People reach their maximum strength between the ages of 20 and 40. Aging takes its toll. Testosterone production wanes, and testosterone enhances muscle growth and muscle strength. Older men, however, are not bereft of testosterone. Men in their 70s who began to lift weights in their 50s have muscular strength comparable to untrained 28-year-olds, so testosterone is not the only factor involved in keeping people strong. Women who lift weights do quite well without it.

People can strengthen themselves by training only one day a week. However, two or three sessions a week bestow greater gains. Daily weightlifting is unproductive. Muscles need 48 to 72 hours to repair and grow after an exercise session.

People should begin with a weight that they can lift eight consecutive times without a pause. That constitutes one set. When they can lift the weight 12 times, then they should perform a second set with a two-to-three-minute break between sets. When two sets are done with ease, then a third set is added, again with a two-to-three-minute pause between sets.

Weightlifting not only strengthens muscles, but it also strengthens bones. It reduces the risk of osteoporosis and the risk of broken bones.

No one in older years should attempt this program without first consulting a doctor.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 46-year-old woman, 5 feet tall and 115 pounds. I started a program of weightlifting, and I ran for 90 minutes. I ate no carbohydrates. My goal was a 35-pound weight loss, which I achieved in eight months. Now my breasts are very small, the skin on my legs, arms and face hangs, and I have no clue what to do. Should I regain the 35 pounds? – C.U.

You have a will of steel. I couldn’t begin to match your program. You have, however, gone a bit overboard.

Ease up on your program and start eating carbohydrates. I know the low-carbohydrate diet has won the world’s attention, but completely eliminating carbohydrates from a diet is not healthy.

If you are running every day, take a break. Run every other day. And reduce your running time drastically.

You do need to put back some weight, but you do not have to regain all the lost 35 pounds.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have twin sons who wrestle on their high-school team. Ringworm is an enemy of wrestlers, because they cannot compete when they have it. My sons get ringworm more than their teammates. Are there some soaps or medicines for ringworm prevention? If not, are there medicines to accelerate healing? – J.P.

Before answering your questions, I want you to make sure your boys’ skin breakouts truly are ringworm. These repeat infections are strange. A doctor’s microscopic examination of scrapings from your sons’ skin can prove the presence or absence of the fungi that cause ringworm.

I have never heard of ringworm medicine being prescribed to prevent infection. I suppose it can be done. There are a large number of ringworm medicines on the shelves of every drugstore. You could test the idea of prevention by having the boys apply a light coat of one of those medicines before practices and matches.

Definitely, there are medicines that get rid of ringworm. How have your boys gotten rid of theirs without treatment? That doesn’t happen often. The medicine must be applied strictly according to the instructions on the label. Many people relapse because they stop application of the medicine when their skin looks normal. Most ringworm treatments must continue even after the visible signs of ringworm have gone.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.

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