Health: A Question of Health

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The Independent Culture
I WANT to prepare my flabby body for a skiing holiday in February. Do you have any suggestions about what exercises I should do?

Skiing is strenuous and can be exhausting, but you will enjoy it much more if you get physically fit before you go. Now is the right time to start preparing for next February. Concentrate on two types of exercise - aerobic activity, to improve your heart, lungs and general fitness, and muscle-strengthening exercises to prepare for the specific requirements of skiing. Anything from brisk walking to jogging or swimming will improve your aerobic capacity. Start slowly, but build up to about 30 minutes a day on at least three days a week. For muscle-strengthening you should concentrate particularly on the muscles in your legs and trunk. A gym fitness instructor could advise you.

CAN MEN suffer from osteoporosis?

Men can and do get osteoporosis; it is a major cause of broken bones in elderly men. Men start off life with bigger and stronger bones than women. Although their bones begin to get thinner as they get older, their head start over women means that they usually do not get problems until they are in their late seventies. Men who are physically inactive are at higher risk, as are smokers and heavy drinkers. Some drugs, particularly long-term steroids and drugs to treat epilepsy, also increase a man's chances of getting osteoporosis. This is an example of prevention being a thousand times better than treatment, because once osteoporosis has set in, it is extremely difficult to make thin bones strong again. My advice is simple: don't smoke, don't drink a lot, have a diet that contains plenty of calcium, and do lots of weight-bearing exercise.

Please send your questions to A Question of Health, `The Independent', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL; fax 0171-293 2182; or e- mail health@independent.co.uk. Dr Kavalier regrets that he is unable to respond personally to questions

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