The 'fatal' fad for extreme exercise
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Monday 04 June 2012
Scientists warn that the fashion for ultramarathons, triathlons and extreme endurance bicycle races could be putting competitors' lives at risk.
The extreme events are increasingly favoured by celebrities including the comedian Eddie Izzard, below, who last month halted a bid to run 27 marathons in 27 days in South Africa. But while moderate exercise is of benefit, participants in extreme sports could risk doing long term damage to their hearts according to a study. Beyond an hour a day, vigorous exercise yields diminishing returns.
The warnings follow the death of Micah True, a US ultra-marathoner, who ran as far as 100 miles in a day. True was found dead of a heart attack in March while on a 12-mile training run in New Mexico. He was 58.
Under the name Caballo Blanco (White Horse) he was the hero of the 2009 best selling book Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall.
Writing in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, James O'Keefe of St Luke's Hospital, Kansas and colleagues said True may have died of cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle that caused it to beat irregularly or pump inadequately, brought on by excessive exercise.
Dr O'Keefe has shown that extreme training can induce temporary changes in the heart. But for some, if the injury is repeated, it can result in scarring and fibrosis – thickening of the heart tissue. In a study of marathon runners, 12 per cent showed evidence of scarring of the heart and there was a "significantly higher" rate of heart disease "events" among them during the subsequent two years.
Latest in Sport
WWE Raw results: Seth Rollins and Kane punish Dean Ambrose while Brock Lesnar receives a new Championship belt
Angel Di Maria: Manchester United to push ahead with £50m move for Real Madrid winger
Manchester United transfer news: Sporting Lisbon confirm Marcos Rojo deal complete with Nani heading back to Portugal on loan
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Arsene Wenger hits out at Aaron Ramsey red card decision
Arsenal player ratings vs Besiktas
- 1 Three of Pope Francis' relatives die in Argentina car crash, including two young great-nephews
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Ukip MEP calls for reintroduction of death penalty on fiftieth anniversary of last deaths
Russell Brand calls for Israel boycott: Comedian urges big businesses that 'facilitate the oppression of people in Gaza' to pull funding
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
World peace? These are the only 11 countries in the world that are actually free from conflict
£35000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Web deve...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: ETL Deve...
£70000 - £100000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front O...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Data...