According to an article published recently in the Wall Street Journal, the opinion of cardiologists is almost unanimous that instead of getting great health benefits from their hours and hours of training time, endurance athletes may in fact be causing excessive ‘wear-and-tear’ on the heart.
Running faster (more than 8 miles per hour) or longer, might increase your risk of an earlier death.
Dr. Kenneth Cooper suggests, that “if you are running more than 15 miles a week, you are doing it for some reason other than health.”
I have to wonder if as the relationship to health, a healthy heart, and mortality rates for runners is researched further, if the link will be made to any and all cardiovascular exercises, or training programs that push the body and heart to the extreme… Ultra training, cycling, triathlons, and other endurance sports may or may not have the impact, but they certainly do have the high heart-rate for extended periods of time.
Oh middle age – we want to keep our bodies looking and feeling like they did when we were in our twenties! Some of us have learned the hard way that the old bod just isn’t up to snuff to push it like we did when we were younger. But other folks seem to be getting stronger and fitter as they age. Either way, it’s use it or lose it. We’ve got to do something to keep ourselves strong, fit, and flexible.
I know for me, I quit running when I was in my 20’s because I was so slow that I couldn’t be competitive to race and it pissed me off. Eighty-year old women were running faster than I could for a 10K! I knew I was never going to win a race. Plus, usually I’d run for a week or two and end up with an injury. Foot pain, knee pain, a pulled Hamstring, or low back problems… something always seemed to sideline me when I started getting in a running groove. Perhaps that twenty year training break I took from running will turn out to be a blessing to my health and longevity!
So what have I done instead? For the past twenty years I’ve been fine-tuning my posture, body alignment, and functional movement habits. Always did some sort of cardio training, just not running. It’s nice to be older AND confident that instead of creating injuries and dealing with chronic foot and back pain (that I expected to be worse at this age) that I actually FEEL better now than I did when I was younger. I now know what type of cross-training exercises and activities need to be in my weekly workouts to avoid overtraining and overuse injuries, and how to tweak my technique to ensure that the right muscles are always working. All of this dedicated time and focus has helped me NOW get back to running and not get hurt!
Personally, I like being outside in the fresh air and sunshine, and running is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. I’ve come to accept that I run like a snail, and will probably never be Speedy González!
This past year I’ve started really paying attention to my heart rate – Running has always quickly put my heart-rate in the 160-180 beats per minute range. I’ve only run two half-marathons but for both I sustained this crazy heart-rate for the entire distance! Two races were enough for me to know that this kind of training wasn’t in my best interest. So I’ve slowed down to a ridiculously slow pace that keeps my heart-rate in a safer zone, and am learning to enjoy the benefits of just moving. I’ve had to accept what I can do, my personal “healthy” pace, and let go of the desire to keep up with the pack.
I know that as a post-menopausal women in my 40’s, that my bones need a little extra impact to try and maintain my bone density – the easiest way to get a little more pounding on my frame it is with a two to four mile, 2-3 day a week jogging workout. With the insights from this recent Wall Street Journal article I’ve got no worries. I’m WELL under the 8 MPH safety speed limit! And not in training mode for another ½-marathon, so know I’m under the 15 mile a week mark too.
When I was younger, I couldn’t imagine living long enough to make it past high-school. Now that I’m older, I have no desire to speed my progress towards the finish line of life! I’m happy that this new research supports my well-balanced, moderately-paced, Intentional Movement Training SytemsTM workout plan. By staying active without over-taxing my heart I am hopefully looking at enjoying a long, active, and healthy life.
Click here to read the full article from the Wall Street Journal. “One Running Shoe in the Grave – New Studies on Older Endurance Athletes Suggest the Fittest Reap Few Health Benefits” by Kevin Helliker.
To learn more about the powerful health benefits of Aliesa George’s Intentional Movement Training SystemsTM to keep you healthy, fit, and injury-free subscribe to the Centerworks Wellness Success Newsletter.
- What are YOUR thoughts on a healthy heart and endurance workouts?
- Are you a runner, triathlete, or just love long, high-intensity cardio workouts?
- Are you doing more or less intense training as you get older?
Drop me a comment and share your opinion. I’d love to hear from you!