Saturday, September 14, 2013

It's All Relative

Tapering for an ironman is an interesting experience.  This morning was a super, super easy workout, just a 30 minute bike ride and a 10 minute swim.  It felt like I'd hardly worked out.  Then I realized, a 40 minute workout, that's all I would recommend to any of my patients.  In fact, studies have shown that the ideal amount of exercise is probably about 30 minutes a day, five to six days a week.  If everyone did that, we'd have a much healthier society.

I guess this leads me into two separate discussions.  The first is whether ironman training is overkill from a health perspective.  On this the data is not clear.  I recently read an article that Tour de France riders actually live longer than the average person.  When I see 80 year olds completing an ironman, I have to believe that exercising a lot is not harmful.  Ironically, the most dangerous type of training is high intensity, potentially leading to an increased risk of injury as well as the production of free-radicals, which has some theoretical risk.  Ironman training tends to be lower intensity, with a focus on endurance.  Next year will be interesting, as I have an ironman in March and August, making a total of three in one year.  We'll see how my body reacts to this, and I'll keep thinking about my perspective.

The other discussion is the general idea of daily regular aerobic exercise.  There is plenty of data showing the benefit of this.  In fact, I've told my patient's for years that if they exercise regularly we can probably reduce at least one of their medications.  That said, weight training is also helpful, especially as we get older.  There was a study done over 20 years ago that showed that bed bound and wheelchair bound elderly in a nursing home could walk again with an intensive weight training program.  We're presently testing this theory with my 88 year old father-in-law.

Tomorrow, I leave for Lake Tahoe.  I will keep blogging on whatever topics come to mind during my taper week.

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