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July 2007

Weekend warriors rejoice

For anyone who has ever overdone it jogging that extra mile or lifting one too many moving boxes, the answer to staving off muscular aches and pains could be as simple as swallowing a pill containing fruit and vegetable compounds before going for the burn.

A new study conducted by Dr. Allan Goldfarb, a professor in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science in the School of Health and Human Performance, could help the legions of weekend warriors and others who experience muscle aches caused by "unaccustomed exercise."

Goldfarb has received a $113,989 grant from National Safety Associates to study whether taking phytonutrient antioxidant pills containing substances derived from fruits and vegetables before doing strenuous exercise can help enhance the recovery of aching muscles and microscopic damage to muscles caused by working the body too hard.

Antioxidants are molecules that slow down chemical reactions in the body that break down tissue and lead to disease. They occur in abundance in foods such as leafy green vegetables and brightly colored fruits.

Goldfarb will study a group of 40 participants ages 18–40 for four weeks. One half of the study group will receive the phytonutrient antioxidant pill and one half will receive a placebo. Both groups will then undergo vigorous exercise followed by tests measuring muscle soreness, muscle force, range of motion and other forms of secondary inflammation and oxidative stress.

Because antioxidants in the form of phytonutrients protect muscles, Goldfarb believes they can stave off the soreness and possible injury caused by working a body too hard.

"People don't always have the time or inclination to properly train or prepare themselves before exercising or performing activities that they donít normally do," said Goldfarb. "This work will explore the role that phytonutrients have in the recovery process."

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