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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story

10,000 More, 9,999 More

Short warm-ups may do you no good at all

By Catherine Shepherd


FOR YEARS, SPORTS PHYSIOLOGISTS have lectured athletes that stretching muscles by doing a few minutes of warm-up exercises is vital for preventing injury and reducing soreness. But now it seems that may be less than the full story. Many researchers believe that there can be no real benefit without at least a solid 20 minutes of deep, prolonged extension.

A study of marathon runners conducted by the University of Hawaii found that those who did short warm-ups prior to workouts were no more resistant to injury than those who did nothing. A similar study at the University of Texas had one group stretch one leg, another both legs and a third neither leg prior to a 20-minute session on a stair machine. Pain measuring devices detected no difference in the level of soreness between the groups.

But stretching, if done slowly and without bouncing or pulling the muscle, feels good. It warms and relaxes the body, so even if lively exercise is not planned afterward, many people enjoy the feeling it produces.

IN BRIEF

Rich diets

Diseases usually associated with affluence are also affecting developing nations, according to this week's issue of Britain's The Lancet. In a study that ranked the 10 leading causes of death around the world, heart attacks came out as No. 1. The authors speculate that malnutrition in childhood predisposes those in low-income regions to suffer heart disease once relative prosperity is gained in adulthood and unhealthy amounts of fat, sugar and salt are added to the diet.

Other points: China was home to over half the world's female suicides (56%). The study also confirmed that despite economic improvement in many developing countries, child mortality is still extremely high: 98% of all deaths of children under 15 occurred in low-income countries. Road accidents ranked ninth in the killer list.

Red for safety

Tomatoes have long been touted as a health food because of their high Vitamin C and fiber content. But research shows they contain something even more valuable: an antioxidant called lycopene. They have so much, in fact, that the American National Cancer Institute advises eating more tomatoes to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, as well as bladder, pancreas and digestive-tract cancer.

Cooked tomatoes, in particular, are an excellent source of lycopene. But don't think that it is as easy as opening a bottle or can. Both ketchup and tomato paste, despite their high tomato content, lose much of their antioxidant value during processing. Antioxidants neutralize the damage caused by free radicals -- oxygen molecules that have undergone molecular changes, making them dangerous to cells.

To the rescue -- again

There is now evidence that the good old family standby, Vitamin C, may even relieve asthma. In the recent issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, researchers report that children with exercise-induced asthma (EIA) responded well to a single, large (2g) dose of C. The researchers found it both prevented and lessened the EIA of 55% of sufferers during physical activity. Unlike other supplements, large single doses of Vitamin C are not toxic. Any excess is simply eliminated from the body through urine.


This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home

AsiaNow


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