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Dying to run? Think again

A study has shown that sedentary middle-aged people should seek medical clearance before plunging headlong into a vigorous exercise programme

Published Fri, Feb 7, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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WITH the greater promotion of exercise as being good for health, there has been a substantial increase in those aged 35 years and above taking up regular physical exercise. This has led to an increasing number of those in this largely sedentary middle-aged group participating in physically demanding exercise events, including marathons.

Over the last three decades, marathon running has seen an explosive 80-fold increase in participants. It is not uncommon to hear of people dying suddenly during a marathon. Hence, it is important to understand whether it is safe to participate in vigorous exercise programmes.

While data from observational studies have suggested that regular exercise may reduce the likelihood of developing heart disease, there is now substantial evidence to show that vigorous exercise can result in the sudden development of a heart attack, sudden death, stroke and a tear in the wall of the main artery of the body (aorta). These events occur mainly in those who have underlying disease of their heart arteries, known or unknown.

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