No pain, no gain mind­set ‘is danger­ous’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

WASH­ING­TON: As the aver­age age of com­peti­tors in en­durance sports rises, a spate of deaths dur­ing races or in­tense work­outs high­lights the risks of ex­ces­sive strain on the heart through vig­or­ous ex­er­cise in mid­dle age.

The 40- to 60-year age bracket holds 32 per­cent of the mem­ber­ship in USA Triathlon, the sport’s of­fi­cial gov­ern­ing body. More fit­ness-con­scious than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions, their num­bers in com­pet­i­tive races are swelling, along with their risk of car­diac ar­rest. Triathlons, the most ro­bust of en­durance races, are be­lieved to be the most risky.

“Peo­ple need to un­der­stand that they’re not nec­es­sar­ily gain­ing more health by do­ing more ex­er­cise,” said David Prior, a car­di­ol­o­gist and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of medicine at Aus­tralia’s Univer­sity of Melbourne. “The at­tributes to push through the bar­ri­ers and push through the pain are com­mon in com­pet­i­tive sport, but that’s also danger­ous when it comes to ig­nor­ing warn­ing signs.”

Car­diac ar­rest, when the heart sud­denly stops beat­ing, can be caused by heart con­di­tions, in­clud­ing ab­nor­mal heart rhythm and thick­en­ing heart mus­cle or ar­ter­ies.

The death rate for triathlons is about twice that for marathons, ow­ing to the in­creased in­ten­sity of the com­pe­ti­tion and the ini­tial swim­ming leg, ac­cord­ing to a study in the jour­nal Mayo Clinic Pro­ceed­ings last year.

“The swim seems to be a par­tic­u­larly danger­ous time,” said marathoner An­dre la Gerche, a car­di­ol­o­gist at Melbourne’s St Vin­cent’s Hos­pi­tal. “Para­dox­i­cally, in the marathon, it’s the op­po­site: It’s the last mile of the event where the vast ma­jor­ity of fa­tal­i­ties oc­cur.”

Re­searchers spec­u­late that sprint­ing to the fin­ish pro­duces adren­a­line that may trig­ger an ab­nor­mal rhythm in run­ners with sus­cep­ti­ble hearts.

Open-wa­ter rac­ing trig­gers two op­pos­ing mech­a­nisms of the in­vol­un­tary ner­vous sys­tem, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers at Eng­land’s Univer­sity of Portsmouth. A “fight or flight” re­sponse ac­ti­vated by phys­i­cal ex­er­tion, cold wa­ter tem­per­a­ture or anx­i­ety tries to speed up the heart rate and causes hy­per­ven­ti­la­tion. This oc­curs as the body tries to slow the heart rate to con­serve oxy­gen in re­sponse to facial wet­ting, wa­ter en­ter­ing the mouth, nose and throat, and ex­tended breath- hold­ing, the sci­en­tists said.

Run­ners should main­tain their pace or slow down in the last mile and not sprint un­less they have trained for it, the In­ter­na­tional Marathon Med­i­cal Di­rec­tors As­so­ci­a­tion said in 2010 in re­sponse to rac­ere­lated sud­den deaths. – Wash­ing­ton Post

MOUN­TAIN VIEW: The more things change, the more they stay the same: in spite of more than a cen­tury be­tween the tak­ing of the two pic­tures, the Molteno Reser­voir and its sur­rounds have hardly changed, with Lions Head of­fer­ing a spec­tac­u­lar back­drop. The reser­voir was es­tab­lished in 1877, and pro­vided enough wa­ter for the young city un­til the onset of 20th cen­tury ur­ban­i­sa­tion. The ‘then’ pic­ture is from the Western Cape Ar­chives, and the ‘now’ pic­ture was shot this week by Week­end Ar­gus pho­tog­ra­pher Candice Mostert. Send in pic­tures of old Cape Town, with any date and back­ground in­for­ma­tion you have, to Box 56, Cape Town, 8000; to 122 St Ge­orge’s Mall, Cape Town, 8001; or to arg­pix@inl.co.za. Please mark them clearly for the Week­end Ar­gus Pic­ture Edi­tor – Then and Now. If you want your pic­ture back, please in­clude your ad­dress.

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