Longevity and your Heart

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Okay, let’s just admit it, most of us are exercising addicts.  I am for sure.   I wrote a post a couple years ago about exercise and your heart.  I’ve already written a couple posts about this, but it needs to be common knowledge for all of us.

Long term and extreme exercise can be dangerous to our hearts.  We need to be cognizant of the potential issues this can involve.

Here is a link to an audio show on NPR last week, with Dr. James O’Keefe.  I went to see Dr. O’Keefe a couple years ago and he is a smart guy.  And what he is reporting here is not something that comes easy for him.  He would like to be telling us that the more hard, endurance exercise we all do is good for us.  But that isn’t the case, according to the studies he’s gathered.  It might not be what we all want to hear or how we plan to live our lives, but we need to understand the issues involved in “excessive” endurance exercise.

If you have some extra time this morning, you should listen to the audio show and make up your own mind.  Have a great Saturday morning.



10 thoughts on “Longevity and your Heart

  1. Larry T.

    When it comes to longevity I always remember the old joke: Doc tells the patient to stop drinking, quit eating so much rich food, get some exercise, stop smoking, etc. Patient asks, “OK Doc, if I do all of that will I live longer?” Doc replies, “I dunno, but it’ll seem like it.” If a doc told me I had to stop riding my bike tomorrow to live 10 years longer, I’d probably opt for more QUALITY of life rather than quantity. Long ago I gave up racing and the intense training it required, not because I feared having a shorter life, but mostly because I was just no good at it. If I was good at it and enjoyed it, I’d probably still be doing it rather than simply enjoying riding my bike at what seems to me to be a decent pace. For me these days it’s supposed to be FUN above all. I wonder how that fits into O’Keefe’s exercise RX?

  2. Russell

    Add up the high quality experience days in your life. For example if I have 200 high quality high intensity days per year from age 20 to 60 and die at age 60, I will have 8000 high intensity days in my life. If I conserve myself and have only 50 days of intensity per year, I would have to live to age 180 to have the same number of intense experiences. Afraid of intensity to live a few years longer with the remote in my hand while enjoying a cocktail of meds? I choose the heart attack.

  3. kim west

    i have been seeing a cardiologist for the past several months because my mitral valve is crapping out on me after all these years. it was first detected way back in 1970, and was not heard from again until about three or four years ago. but just over the last year it has become problematic, and i am now taking an ACE inhibitor and a beta blocker on a daily basis. the docs have told me i can’t train and do the michigan 24 hour race nor anything else that imposes the kind of intense training my little old heart has become accustomed to the last 30+ years.

    i am not at all happy, and yet i’m not ready to check out yet, so i am trying to find a happy balance.

    it sucks.

  4. John Mandrola

    Hi all,
    Just yesterday, I gave a presentation on athletes and the heart rhythm problem atrial fibrillation at a conference in Utah. It turns out that the evidence is quite strong that cumulative exposure to endurance exercise increases the risk of heart rhythm problems. And there are plausible (scientific) reasons why it happens.

    Here is an essay summarizing the talk: Athletes and AF: Connecting the Lifestyle Dots http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/840484. The piece is on Medscape Cardiology. It is free but you have to register with an email.

  5. Steve M

    Wow, interesting piece. I’m hanging my hat on the comment where he said “no more than 5 or 6 hours of max intensity weekly.” That’s about where I land in the middle of cycling season — typically, a 2-hr race-like training ride and a 2-hr race Saturday, Sunday or both. The rest is recovery (I’m 50-plus masters).

  6. James

    Doc is sorta all over the place. First, he’s specific to running. Cycling isn’t running – no pounding. Second, stretching of the heart. Common sense would tell you that pushing towards and over AT excessively is the issue. Ironic this is the now accept “qaulity” over “qauntity” training protocol? Third, he gets the balance right. Most competitive cyclists, once they fit in all the interval training, don’t seek out much balance.

    “Observational studies”? He trained for sprint tri, at a massive 7 hrs a week & his heart just didn’t feel right. How’s that feel?

    “Don’t pretend your 20…” Heart rate beat cap? If so, most of us surpassed that myth a long time ago. What a debbie downer!


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