Hi this is a question from Nikos in Greece and he is a dentist and he is used to run marathons and he is 61 years old and he is wondering if it is advisable for a 61-year-old to run marathons.
The reason why I am not very much in favor of running marathons is because it is very unnatural for the human body to endure such enormous amounts of stress, because when you consistently have to use the heart and the lungs in such a way that they have to go in overdrive, and go into an anaerobic process, that means using existing oxygen in the body, rather than one that is made available through the breathing… when you go rapidly out of breath, then the body goes into the anaerobic mode which can deplete or can stress the cells quite thoroughly, deeply, which means they cannot do their normal regular jobs, and typically after a marathon there is a depletion of energy for several days, sometimes for weeks, which means that that there is considerable amount of damage done to the cells.
The other thing is that marathon runners actually shrink their hearts, this is something that not many marathon runners are actually aware of. When you only use the muscles and when you run in a marathon you know that the muscles actually shrink, they become less, because you use up a huge amount of energy and nutrients made available to the muscles so the muscles tend to become smaller and then they replenish during the resting period afterwards but the heart muscle, the heart is a muscle, also starts shrinking because it is overused, it’s depleted and it takes time for it to regenerate itself, but in many cases when there are professional marathon runners, they actually shrink their hearts and they it can become very, very small, and eventually it can lead to infarction and that’s why we do find quite a few marathon runners have died as soon as they cross the finishing line or even before crossing the finishing line.
So there is a risk involved and I would hate that you would incur such a risk for proving to yourself that you can, as a 61-year-old, do that. There are many ways to enhance your health and to exercise in a more kind way that means kind to your body rather than stressing it so much.
On the other hand, you find that the lung capacity also diminishes in time. It’s found that the lungs themselves also beginning to shrink.
On the other hand when you look at short distance runners they have very, very strong hearts, they have actually some of the best hearts in the world, and their lung capacity is absolutely normal and they have incredible strength and also muscle strength.
The reason why that is, is because the short distance runners they only stimulate their hearts like running hundred meters is giving the heart a boost, its making it move very rapidly, pump up blood very rapidly and then suddenly there is a stop and so this have been shown, found, to be extremely beneficial for the body, it’s a similar system as described in the Pace system, P-A-C-E, where you alternate very strong physical activity but that is very short like one minute followed by minute or two of resting or slowing down and again repeating a very strenuous workout for one minute and then slowing down or relaxing, and repeating that for six to eight times. So within two minutes you have done a workout, which is far more beneficial than hours of aerobic exercise.
This is the kind of workout that animals do in the wilderness, like if you look at wild horses, they run a short distance, then they stop, graze, and then they run again some short distance. There is no animal in the world that is constantly running like marathons runners are, that is considered, in the animal kingdom, totally abnormal, it just doesn’t happen. So it’s good to experience breaks between such workouts but not to stress the body on going for, sometimes hours, which can have its own risks that I don’t recommend to anyone.
There are marathon runners that are healthy, they are particularly of the Kapha type in Ayurveda which you can find more information about that in my book “Timeless Secrets Of Health And Rejuvenation”. They have the longest endurance, they are the least susceptible to over exercising, they have almost an endless amount of energy, they would be the best suited for such more strenuous workouts but if you are a Pitta type or a Vata type then there are considerable risks involved in running marathons, and it would be better if you had some more gentle exercise programs that you do that are equally rewarding.
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