Sprinting, distance running depend on energy systems
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have been running for at least five years and run five or more miles almost daily. Yesterday, I played basketball with my two teenage sons. I was out of breath, and they weren’t breathing hard. Has all my running been in vain? I thought I was in excellent shape. — D.R.
ANSWER:
You can rest assured that your running program has put you in good shape. Running five or more miles almost daily has given your heart an excellent workout, kept you on the lean side and should have lowered your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Distance running is not the same kind of running that sprinting is. Distance running is aerobic exercise, the kind of exercise where large muscles (the leg muscles) are in continuous movement for prolonged time periods. Aerobic exercise is the kind of exercise recommended for heart health. It’s the kind that prevents heart attacks and strokes.
Sprinting, on the other hand, is a completely different sort of exercise. What you did when you were playing with your sons is sprinting exercise. If you want a name for it, it is anaerobic exercise, exercise where a different fuel is needed and where oxygen consumption isn’t emphasized. Sprinting does provide different benefits, and it’s necessary for athletes whose sports call for intense bursts of speed. The fact that sprinting left you breathless shouldn’t surprise you.
Granted, professional basketball players are in constant motion and both sprint and then run at a pace that would be considered more of a jog. They perform both aerobic and anaerobic exercise.
If you want to run fast for short distances, you have to practice sprinting. For the occasional basketball game with your sons, I wouldn’t advise you to waste your time. Stick with long-distance running for your heart.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am an 83-year-old woman. It seems that since I turned 80, everything has gone to pot with me. What bothers me most is my posture. I used to have excellent posture. Now I have become round-shouldered. Can you suggest an exercise that would restore my good posture? — M.C.
ANSWER:
Try this. Sit on a kitchen chair or any chair without arms. Bend forward, halfway to your knees. In that position, squeeze your shoulder blades together as though you were trying to make them meet. Hold that position for a 10 count. Relax and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 more times this bend-squeeze exercise. Do it a couple of times a day.
At all other times, try to assume a posture where you’re making the shoulder blades touch. It should become a habit.
I’m not sure if exercise is a good idea for you. Osteoporosis may be the cause of your posture change. Correction of osteoporosis takes more than exercise. You have to be sure to get enough calcium and vitamin D. You might need medicines. Ask your doctor, at the next visit, if you have osteoporosis, and turn your attention to that if you do.
DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I play softball for my company. Last week, while rounding second, I felt like I stubbed my toe. It hurt, and it still does. People tell me it is turf toe. What is that, and how long does it go on? — M.L.
ANSWER:
Turf toe happens when the big toe is forcefully bent upward. That motion sprains ligaments at the base of the toe.
Every time you take a step, your big toe propels the body forward. Limit your walking to give the toe a rest. Splinting the toe with tape is helpful. Shoes with a sturdy sole also protect the toe.
If the ligaments have only been stretched, your toe ought to feel fine in two weeks. If the ligaments are torn, it will take six weeks.
You and I are going on “people’s” diagnosis. If there isn’t a major turnabout shortly in how the toe feels, have a doctor confirm the diagnosis.
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. Readers may also order health newsletters from www.rbmamall.com.


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