The risk you need to know if you start running after 50

Whether on the streets of the big city or through the gorges of small towns, every day we meet more and more runners who see in this sport, cheap and easy to do, the perfect solution for its adjustment after the holidays and summer excesses. However, cardiologists warn that while physical activity has many beneficial health effects in healthy people, running out of control it can kill you.
In fact, a recent study concluded that long-term strenuous resistance training promotes deleterious vascular remodeling in contrast to the beneficial effects of moderate exercise.

Age, a key factor

Age is also a factor to consider. From the age of 40 or 50, the Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC) recommends a medical examination and control of risk factors such as high pressuresymptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, dyspnoea, precordial pain or loss of consciousness, as well as adequate control of blood pressure and to undergo a resting electrocardiogram and stress test.

The Dr. Carlos de Teresa, a sports medicine specialist, explains that “the moment someone starts exercising and their muscles have a greater need for blood supply, the heart responds by increasing cardiac output, that is, the amount of blood the heart is able to pump per minute . Increased pumping capacity requires an adaptation process as heart muscle it must be physiologically hypertrophied in order to acquire elasticity and improve the function of contraction and relaxation.

In addition, the circulatory system also requires a progressive adaptation time to achieve this through improving elasticity of the arteries and the increase in the number of capillaries in each muscle facilitate the supply of blood and oxygen needed by the muscles during exercise.

The risks of sport

How to recognize a problem

On the other hand, one of the variables that easily allows us to recognize a good adaptation of the heart to exercise is the decrease in heart rate at rest and during the same intensity of exercise, that is, “cardiovascular adaptation to exercise allows us to run with a lower heart rate and blood pressure because the heart is able to pump the same amount blood per minute with fewer heartbeats because its dilation and contraction function is more efficient,” adds the expert.

The Spanish Heart Foundation (FEC) offers a series of recommendations so that the effort is not counterproductive for the heart.

Expert recommendations

  • Always enjoy exercise. If you run at the right intensity, you should be able to talk to the person next to you.
  • Invisible training is essential. Be well-nourished (consume enough complex carbohydrates, protein and monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil) and remember to stay hydrated before, during and after the race.
  • Recover well between workouts. From a muscle perspective, when we perform intense exercise, it takes between 48 and 72 hours for us to resume the same exercise and for our muscles to have recovered (with no signs of inflammation or oxidation).
  • Listen to our body and we analyze whether we feel well, whether our sleep is peaceful. If we do not sleep well or feel discomfort in any part of the body, this will be a sign that we are training with an intensity higher than what we can absorb.
  • Medical examination and family history. The main cause of sudden death in young athletes is related to some genetic change, and in the elderly with coronary disease. Risk factors should be controlled and blood pressure should be adequately controlled and a resting electrocardiogram should be obtained.

As Dr. Carlos de Teresa explains, “if these tips are ignored, running can cause harmful effects such as increased cardiovascular risk, joint and muscle injuries or overtraining syndrome, which occurs when a person exercises too much, but is unable to adapt to the effort, leading to risks for the cardiovascular, neuro-endocrine and immune systems».

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