Popular Posts

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Why Heavy Exercise May Put Your Heart On Shaky Ground

According to some doctors, there is no relationship between exercise and longevity. Actually, there is no conclusive proof that vigorous daily exercise for its own sake does anything but destroy health.

According to an article in Circulation, the the journal of the American Heart Association, regular exercise did not make one iota's difference in rates of age related physical decline study of more than 800 male and female subjects of various ages.

Measured by periodic tread mill tests over an average age period of 8 years, both the exercisers and otherwise healthy non-obese sedentary types, , experienced a 20% decline in aerobic capacity for every decade past age 70.

That means despite what running shoe makers, sports drink makers, and gym owners tell you, heavy  exercise does nothing to stave off the natural reduction in physical strength and stamina that comes with aging.

The Paradox Of The Exercise Craze

Enlargement of the heart, known as cardiomegaly, is considered a healthy sign in athletes. But in the rest of us, its considered to be a serious sign of heart disease. Does this give us any clue as to why super athletes die young from heart disease? Many athletes also have irregular cardiograms that would be considered serious signs of heart disease in most of us. But since they're in shape, its considered benign.

A case in point would be Pheidippides the first marathon runner. He ran from Marathon to Athens which is 26 miles, to announce the Greek victory over the Persians. He delivered his message and then dropped dead. Things have changed much since then since marathoners are still dropping dead at the finish.

One medical study involved 10 cases of sudden death among runners. The researchers discovered severe coronary atherosclerosis is the most common cause of death among marathon runners.  The researchers pursued these findings among 24 cases of joggers, not marathoners, but joggers. Thirteen died while jogging, and six soon after jogging. All but one had severe coronary artery disease.

Consider this Swedish study. A total of 315 heart attack patients were divided into two groups. Half received exercise training and half no exercise. There was no evidence that the exercise group fared better than the control group in terms of death rates or rate of recurrence of heart attacks. A Canadian study came up with similar results.

A Little Exercise Goes A Long Way

 The key to maintaining muscle mass is balance. In young adults there's a healthy ebb and flow between the buildup and breakdown of muscles that helps maintain that balance. But that's not the case with the elderly. Instead, the muscle breakdown continues unabated while the buildup process slows down considerably.

So the best way to keep muscles strong is to get moderate exercise. Some doctors recommend that if you're over 65 you should walk one mile round trip once a day. And if you want to keep your body fit and strong, there are plenty of low impact exercises you can do to keep fit.

If you're unsure about which exercises to do, you can go to a gym and tell one of the trainers that you want to strengthen your muscles. Tell him or her the specific areas you're interested in working and let the trainer know that you don't want a comprehensive muscle building program. If the trainer asks why, tell him that's  all your doctor recommended. If he or she tries to sell you a lot of bodybuilding capsules, don't waste your money. Moderate low impact exercise is all you need to keep fit.

No comments: