Boomers: Easy Ways to Cut Your Risk of Heart Trouble
We Baby Boomers are an adventurous generation. But some of the items on our “bucket lists” – and even everyday activities – can put a strain on our aging hearts.
For example, running a marathon has become a common item on Boomers’ bucket lists. But running for 26.2 miles requires a strong and healthy heart. A marathon can put a strain even on seemingly fit runners.
Jim Fixx, an avid runner and author of The Complete Book of Running, died during a training run at age 52. And the runner who died at this year’s Chicago Marathon was only 35.
But hearts giving out during marathons are relatively rare. On the other hand, many marathoners damage their hearts. And most don’t even realize it.
According to Canada’s Heart and Stroke Foundation, many runners may be able to complete a marathon… but they’re not fit enough to avoid heart damage. These researchers discovered that many marathon runners suffered heart damage during the race that required up to 3 months to repair.1
Running a marathon isn’t the only way we Boomers risk our hearts, either. “Weekend warriors” are another high-risk group. I’m sure you know a few of these (mostly) guys. During the week, they’re busy with careers and family. But on the weekends, they’re out playing soccer, volleyball or some other competitive sport.
Sore muscles and stiff joints are the most common complaints from weekend warriors. But this “episodic activity” puts a real strain on your heart. A recent review of 10 studies found that weekend warriors more than triple their risk of sudden heart trouble.2
On the plus side, the same researchers found that every additional bout of weekly exercise cuts that risk by about 45%.
To our credit, we Boomers exercise regularly more than our parents’ or grandparents’ generations did. But what many of us do after that exercise can raise our heart risk, too. This picture probably looks familiar…
After a good workout on the treadmill or exercise bike, you’re thirsty. So, you grab a 20-ounce soda on the way home from the gym.
Millions of Americans do it. In fact, we each guzzled an average of 44.7 gallons of soda last year. That’s over 3-1/2 gallons per month!
All that soda goes straight to your waistline… and raises your blood pressure.3 both conditions increase your risk of heart trouble. Studies have also linked soft drinks with another heart risk factor: high blood sugar.4
Adding to the problem are fruit juice cocktails and flavored waters. Both sound healthier than soda, but they’re usually loaded with sugar, too.
So how can you cut your risk?
If you’re a weekend warrior, at least take a brisk half-hour walk 3 times a week. You’ll strengthen your heart, increase your endurance, and may even get rid of the Monday morning aches and stiffness.
If you’re thinking about running a marathon – or attempting any other intense physical activity – talk to your doctor first. And keep in mind that 6 months is the absolute minimum training time you’ll need.
Finally, skip the soda and other sugary drinks. Instead, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
After a long workout, or on extra-hot days, coconut water makes a great electrolyte-replacement drink. And to feed your muscles the protein they need after a tough workout, occasionally treat yourself to a glass of chocolate milk.
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
Best Life Herbals
1 “Marathons damage the hearts of less fit runners for up to 3 months,” Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. October 25, 2010.
2 Dahabreh, I.J., et al, “Association of Episodic Physical and Sexual Activity With Triggering of Acute Cardiac Events,” JAMA. 2011; 305(12): 1225-1233.
3 Sugar-Sweetened Beverage, Sugar Intake of Individuals, and Their Blood Pressure
Brown, I.J., et al, “International Study of Macro/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure,” HypertensionAHA.110.165456. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.110.165456.
4 Dhingra, R., et al, “Soft Drink Consumption and Risk of Developing Cardiometabolic Risk Factors and the Metabolic Syndrome in Middle-Aged Adults in the Community,” Circulation. 2007; 116: 480-488.