WHAT TO CONSIDER BEFORE CONSIDERING TRIATHLONS

4/8/2011

If you are considering training for a triathlon-this is a great choice!  Aerobic exercise has been associated with decreasing your risk of obesity, type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease (including heart attack and stroke), lowering high blood pressure and cholesterol, and improving depression.  Wt bearing exercises, like running, increase bone mass, yet triathlons are the epitome of cross-training, thus decreasing your risk of impact injuries like stress fractures.

For those who have not competed in distance/endure races in the past there may be some things to consider before beginning.  Now, logically it makes sense that if you have been exercising at a certain level of intensity for a certain length of time it is likely that you can continue to do this with little health risk.  But, even people who seem to be in ‘good shape’ can have underlying medical conditions that can put them at risk for sudden cardiac death.  Congenital heart abnormalities are more likely to cause symptoms in those under the age of 35.  In those older than 35, coronary artery disease (this includes ‘hardening of the arteries and heart attack) is more common.

These people need to see their doctor before training for a triathlon:

  1. People who have had a family member die before the age of 60 from a heart problem.
  2. People that have a significant heart murmur or other issue.
  3. Men over 45 and women over 55 who are changing or advancing their exercise routine
  4. Anyone with the following symptoms associated with exercise:
    1. Dizziness, Fainting or near fainting
    2. Racing heart
    3. Shortness of breath
    4. Excessive or long-lasting fatigue
    5. Chest Pain

I’m sure there are a lot of people who are saying that they always experience shortness of breath, fatigue and an increased heart rate with exercise.  But this needs to be taken in context.  If these symptoms don’t quickly improve with rest or if they are more dramatic than those of others who you are exercising with, then it would be a good idea to see your doctor.

You should also see your doctor for these other health issues:

  • Seizure Disorder
  • Asthma
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • High Blood Pressure

Good Luck!

Matt Evans, MD
Utah Valley Sports Medicine
1159 E. 200 N., Ste. 100
American Fork, UT 84003
801-855-2663

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