Hidden Hazards – for aging athletes

Ron KonaBecause the big money lies in helping sick folks, athlete health is likely to remain a poorly understood niche. Here are three hazards that most people miss.

Lifestyle & Nutrition Stress

As an elite athlete, my blood markers would indicate kidney stress. I coached a kidney doc and did a consult to rule out kidney disease. Where we ended up was acknowledging the stress of the athletic lifestyle:

  • High calorie diet
  • High protein diet
  • High sugar diet
  • Constant muscle breakdown

Now, there are many ways that my athletic lifestyle reduces stress (body composition, blood pressure). However, a high-performance lifestyle increases stress, when compared to an active lifestyle.

From 2001 to 2008, I was “fast” but I carried around an immune system that was chronically suppressed.

Around 2010, I cut my training in half, and my blood markers went from good to outstanding.

My kidney function cleared up, my immune system strengthened and my HDL/LDL cholesterol improved. (82/84 mg/dL).

I put this out there because I had a fear that I would “lose everything” if I backed off.

The reality => Moderation improved my health and my marriage.

Passing Out & Crashing

I’ve been exercising daily for ~20 years and it’s the best investment I’ve made.

If you want to slow the aging process:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Don’t smoke
  • Take it easy on the booze
  • Eat real food
  • Move daily

The flip side of being a long-term exerciser is I can go a long, long way on nothing. It’s a trait that can get an older athlete into trouble.

When tired, depleted or “open” from exercise, my blood pressure can dip suddenly. So far, I have never passed out but I’ve felt lightheaded on many occasions.

Passing out is a serious medical condition – Part One and Part Two on the Athlete’s Heart Blog will tell you more.

If you share my profile then be aware that falls and crashes are different as we age. A key part of aging well is avoiding the strength and muscle losses that come from extended breaks.

I have changed my approach to improve my risk profile.

The Scalpel of Eternal Youth

Here’s how I categorize WEEKLY run mileage:

  • 20 miles = “not running”
  • 30 miles = “light week”
  • 40 miles = “basic maintenance”
  • 50 miles = “good week”
  • 60 miles = “enough to run a decent marathon”
  • 75 miles or more = “stretch week”

Follow this running protocol long enough and you’re likely to deal with orthopedic issues.

The most effective treatment for chronic injury is lifestyle modification.

Your orthopedic surgeon makes NO money from this truth!

A surprising thing about middle age => moderation turned out of be healthy and enjoyable.

Who Knew?