strengthguild On March - 6 - 2011

Figure 1. Is all that endurance training healthy?(6)

Endurance Training and Health

It’s well known that running can be a great way of improving one’s cardiometabolic health status and assist with weight management. However, recent research, conducted by Wilson et al., indicates that extreme endurance training may pose health risks (1). In their study, the research team looked at the following 3 groups to assess the impact endurance training had on heart structure and function:

(Note – Each participant had a clean bill of health with respect to cardiometabolic diseases such as hypertension, angina, MI or diabetes mellitus. Likewise, their family history checked out to be “clean” as well. One of the veteran athletes reported smoking for 15 years in the past. None of the other participants in the study reported any smoking at any point in their lives.)

1) 12 veteran male endurance athletes

Mean Age: 57 years (range: 50-67)
Years of Competitive Training: 43 years (range: 35-52)
Number of Marathons: 178 (range 20-650)
Number of Ultra Marathons: 65 (range: 0-257)

2) 20 age-matched male sedentary controls

Mean Age: 60 years (range: 52-69)
Years of Competitive Training: 0
Number of Marathons: 0
Number of Ultra Marathons: 0 (range?)

3) 17 young male endurance athletes.

Mean Age: 31 years (range: 26-40)
Years of Competitive Training: 18 years (range: 11-31)…
Number of Marathons: 2 (range 0-10)
Number of Ultra Marathons: 0 (range: 0-3)

After analyzing each group and comparing results, a few key differences were noted. With respect to function, endurance training seemed to attenuate the loss of stroke volume (amount of blood pumped per beat) and preserve resting heart rate (vs sedentary controls).

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