Health

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

The rewards and risks of extreme exercise

Comments (3)
By Peter Hadzipetros

It's rare that someone dies running a marathon or half marathon. Extraordinarily rare when three people die. Yet that's what happened in Detroit, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2009.

Within 16 minutes, three men collapsed and died while running the half marathon in Detroit. All had trained to do the event and – according to news reports all were relatively healthy.

Emergency medical staff were on hand quickly for each man, but none could be saved.

It's a tragedy but unfortunately it happens. People who sign up for any organized race have to sign a waiver acknowledging that they understand the risk they are taking in participating in an extreme event.

No sane person would compete in a half marathon or marathon without doing the proper training. It is hard on the body and you need to be prepared for it.

A whole lot of exercise doesn't necessarily mean that you're immune from heart troubles.

Studies have suggested that you're at higher risk than the general population of suffering a heart attack while you're running a marathon, but the rest of the time, your risk is much lower. A study out of the University of Manitoba also suggests that long-distance races can cause damage to your heart – but it's healed within a week, with no long-term effects.

But the evidence is not clear-cut. A three-year old study suggests that for runners over the age of 50, it might be difficult to tell the difference between the positive effects of training on the heart and the onset of cardiovascular disease.

You have to know your limits. But the heart is a complicated and tricky little organ. By the time you realize something's seriously wrong, you may already be knocking on the pearly gates.

But there's risk in any activity – probably more in a life of non-activity.

The Detroit deaths prompted the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association in the United States to issue a warning: we need to be more aware of the prevalence of sudden cardiac arrest.

The association estimates that 300,000 Americans die every year from sudden cardiac arrest. That's one person every two minutes. Clearly, not all of them are running marathons.

Some of them are at home watching television or outside office buildings, taking a smoke break.

Yes, three runners died in Detroit doing something that gave them great joy on Sunday.

What didn't make the headlines was that on the same day, in Columbus, Ohio and Toronto, 30,000 people crossed the finish lines for marathons and half marathon and while maybe not extending their lives, sure improved the quality of it.

« Previous Post | Main

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

Comments (3)

Michael

China

I am still sore from finishing the Beijing Marathon on Oct 18th, it was my first, and possibly my last marathon. I think that 4 factors may have contributed to the Detroit tragedy 1. Most rookie marathon and half marathon preparation guides do not have one run the full distance before the actual race. 2. Runners often mistakenly believe that they will run faster in the race than in training and so go at too fast a pace. 3. In training a runner gets a pretty good idea of what is a reasonable distance for him or herself. These runners probably went beyond that limit, I know I did. 4. Training is time specific, and no matter how you feel or what the weather is like, that race you trained for for four months and spent $80 to enter is going to happen at 8am on race day. Sometimes it can just be the wrong time.

Posted October 20, 2009 08:30 PM

Ron Parker

Victoria

Running may be good for your cardio vascular fitness but weight training for the over 50's is much more beneficial. A one hour session using slow protocol twice weekly is the minimum, but the results are great. The increase is bone density and muscle development staves off osteo porosis, improves heart function, burns more calories and even helps digestion. I ran three days a week until I was fifty, and have only weight trained for the past 17 years. I feel better, am able to do more in a day and pack 10 more pounds of muscle with a smaller waist than before.

Posted October 20, 2009 01:27 PM

Amy Dar

Calgary

A death in any sporting event is unfortunate. My sympathies to the runner’s families and friends. A death during a marathon always reminds me of the ‘ironic’ death of Jim Fixx, noted running enthusiast and author, at the age of 52 in 1984 during his daily run. In my mind his death was not due to the running itself – his previous lifestyle had caught up to him (i.e., at age 35 he weighed 240 lbs. and smoked two packs of cigarettes per day). Running smart is key, and if you do this your run is no more dangerous than your morning commute.

Posted October 20, 2009 12:26 PM

« Previous Post | Main

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

Back of the Pack »

About the Author

Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

More from Peter Hadzipetros »

Recent Posts

The rewards and risks of extreme exercise
Peter Hadzipetros
Monday, October 19, 2009
The golden age of running
Peter Hadzipetros
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Late night calories could pack bigger punch for your paunch
Peter Hadzipetros
Friday, September 11, 2009
Exercise, not 'guardian angels' key to avoiding falls
Peter Hadzipetros
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
For the love of it
Peter Hadzipetros
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Subscribe to this blog

Recent Comments

I am still sore from finishing the Beijing Marathon on Oc...
The rewards and risks of extreme exercise
Running may be good for your cardio vascular fitness but ...
The rewards and risks of extreme exercise
A death in any sporting event is unfortunate. My sympath...
The rewards and risks of extreme exercise

Archives

October 2009 (1)
September 2009 (2)
July 2009 (2)
May 2009 (2)
April 2009 (1)
March 2009 (1)
February 2009 (1)
January 2009 (1)
December 2008 (1)
September 2008 (1)
July 2008 (2)
June 2008 (2)
May 2008 (1)
April 2008 (2)
February 2008 (1)
January 2008 (2)
December 2007 (2)
November 2007 (4)
October 2007 (3)
September 2007 (3)
August 2007 (3)
July 2007 (4)
June 2007 (5)
May 2007 (3)
April 2007 (6)
March 2007 (3)
February 2007 (6)
January 2007 (7)
December 2006 (2)
November 2006 (3)
October 2006 (3)
September 2006 (4)
August 2006 (5)
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Refugee boat bound for Italy capsizes off Libya coast
A boat packed with mainly African migrants bound for Italy sank off the Libyan coast on Thursday and officials said up to 200 might have died.
Kim Jong-un dismisses some officials after South Korea talks
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has dismissed top officials in the wake of a recent standoff with South Korea, state media reported Friday, a move that suggests the young leader holds them responsible for allowing the confrontation to nearly spin out of control.
10 years after Katrina, New Orleans ward struggling to rebuild and draw people back video
Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Big Easy, some sections of New Orleans are rebuilt and thriving, while others, like the Lower 9th Ward, resemble the land time forgot.
more »

Canada »

Fracking-induced earthquakes could leave workers vulnerable, says geophysicist
A leading seismic scientist says B.C.'s energy infrastructure and gas-field workers may be vulnerable to earthquakes caused by fracking.
Calgary air quality reading affected by spider in monitoring station
A bug in the system that monitors the skies over Calgary has caused an artificial spike in the air quality health index, giving a reading of 10+ when it should have been just four.
Washington Stickpin wildfire has B.C. communities watching weather with hope
The threat of wind-blown "ember showers" has left the B.C. communities of Grand Forks and Christina Lake in a smoky limbo, as residents wait to see what happens with the weather.
more »

Politics »

Analysis To fix Canada's infrastructure, billions are just drops in the bucket video
Over the years, governments at all levels have been reluctant to take on debt and to run deficits in order to put money into projects that sometimes take years, if not decades to complete. But it hasn’t always been this way.
Mike Duffy trial: Former, current PMO aides' court chat showed 'poor judgment'
A former director of issues management at the Prime Minister's Office who was being cross-examined at the Mike Duffy trial may not have been acting improperly by chatting at the Ottawa courthouse with the current holder of the job, but it showed poor judgment, criminal lawyers say.
Tom Mulcair's promise to reverse health transfer cuts may have to wait
An NDP government would make it a "top priority" to honour its commitment last year to reverse Conservative cuts to provincial health transfers, though it's not likely to happen right away, Tom Mulcair says.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Céline Dion is back on Las Vegas stage with 1st show since last August
Canadian singing superstar Céline Dion is back in Las Vegas for the first time since she halted her career in 2014 to care for her ailing husband René Angélil.
John Boyega wields lightsaber in new Star Wars Instagram teaser
The new teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is as notable for its aspect ratio as it is for its meagre new content.
Mr. Robot finale postponed because of scenes 'similar' to Virginia shooting
USA Network has postponed airing the season finale of the psychological thriller Mr. Robot because of scenes that it says bear similarities to Wednesday's deadly shooting of two journalists in Virginia.
more »

Technology & Science »

Many psychology studies fail reproducibility test
A large group of researchers set out to repeat 100 experiments published by leading psychology journals to see how often they would get the same results. Here's what they found.
Drone operator fined more than $1,000 for allegedly getting too close to orca pod
An American drone operator and photographer have been slapped with hefty fine for allegedly getting too close to a pod of orcas in Washington state.
Knut the polar bear's cause of death found
What killed Knut the celebrity polar bear? The answer turned out to be even more useful than scientists could have hoped for.
more »

Money »

TSX, Dow charge higher as market gloom over China dissipates
North American stock markets followed China's lead higher on Thursday, moving up 300 points as gloom over China's slowing economy dissipated.
Oil climbs above $42 US a barrel after stocks rebound
Oil futures are soaring, encouraged by the sharp rebound in U.S. stocks yesterday and fresh signs that the country's economy is growing strongly.
Amazon launches 1-hour alcohol delivery service in the U.S.
In the amount of time it takes to watch an episode of Mad Men, Seattle residents can now get everything they need to stir up an Old Fashioned of their own without ever leaving the house.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Derek Drouin soars to high jump final at track worlds video
Canada's Derek Drouin took his first step towards claiming another world championship medal on Friday, while Damian Warner kept pace in the decathlon.
Blog Can Sebastian Coe restore fans' faith in athletics?
New IAAF president Sebastian Coe knows all eyes are on him to restore the integrity of track and field in the wake of widespread doping. But will he also be able to restore the faith of fans worldwide?
Usain Bolt beats Justin Gatlin for 4th straight 200m world title video
Usain Bolt again defeated rival Justin Gatlin on Thursday to win his fourth consecutive 200-metre world title and complete another sprint double at the world track and field championships in Beijing.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »