Hello Realbuzzers! Hope you’re all good and have been enjoying the sun? So I’m now three weeks into an enforced rest and to be honest I’m starting to get pretty cranky. I use the word ‘rest’ fairly loosely as I’ve still been able to do some core and upper body work so it’s not been a total sloth fest. When you go from training twice a day to doing very little it’s a bit of a culture shock and there has definitely been a bit of a void in my life. I’ve realised that I miss the physical and mental challenge of training. For my own sanity, I needed a bit of a challenge to get my teeth into so I’ve been doing some swimming with a pull buoy. This little piece of foam has become my best friend as it enables me to swim without using my legs. Yep, it's strictly arms only at the mo! I’m up to 1600m now and have set myself the goal of getting to 2000m. Weirdly it has not been quite as difficult as I thought, as the float enables me to hold a better hip position in the water and apparently you only use your legs for about 10% of propulsion when swimming anyway. Any hard core swimmers out there, please feel free to correct me! Fingers crossed I’ve just got one more week left and then I can start to introduce some cross training again before gradually resuming a running programme.
Talking of challenging yourself, I’ve read a few really interesting articles recently on the possible link between extreme endurance sport and dangerous heart arrhythmias. It’s well known that athletes often push their bodies to the limit and as a result, injuries are an occupational hazard. Most people, myself included, associate sports injuries with the musculo-skeletal system but research suggests that your heart, like any other muscle can be damaged from excessive exercise. It goes without saying that regular aerobic exercise increases life expectancy by helping to prevent heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and certain forms of cancer but it would seem that like anything in life, moderation is the key. Scientists are suggesting that long term excessive endurance exercise causes ‘wear and tear’ on the heart and this could reverse the life expectancy advantage. Such ‘wear and tear’ includes over-stretching heart chambers, thickening of its walls and changes to the heart’s electrical signals, which can trigger heart rhythm problems.
Studies have estimated that veteran athletes may be five times more at risk of something called atrial fibrillation, which causes an irregular heart beat and often an abnormally fast heart rate. The research suggests that the potential for heart damage from excessive endurance exercise increases in middle age and beyond and the advice is to moderate your exercise from age 45- 50 plus. To be honest, most people do this anyway as the rest of the body starts to complain first.
So what’s the upshot of all this? From what I can gather, more research is needed on this topic but it’s good for people to be aware of their heart health. I’m not sure what counts as ‘excessive’ endurance exercise either. I’m guessing running marathons, ultras or competing in triathlons for a prolonged period of time. The general advice seems to be to build recovery time into your training to allow your heart to recover as well as the rest of your body and to see your GP if you are concerned.
If anybody is interested in one of the articles, you can read it here. Until next time.
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