This is a short intro to my latest column over at Trials and Fibrillations on theHeart.org Medscape|Cardiology.
I am not sure why doctors so often look past the best medicine. It’s right there before our eyes. Yet somehow we get sidetracked by the culture of pills and procedures. Modern-day caregivers fail to master the obvious of the human condition.
Researchers from Dallas, Texas just published a beautiful study in the heart journal Circulation. It was a year-long study of 12 sedentary masters-aged subjects. The research team, a group of sports cardiologists, set out to show the heart’s adaptation to exercise turns on training load and not genetics. They did this, but they found so much more.
Tell me you don’t love their methods: The researchers gave the lucky twelve subjects free coaching for a year. The goal was to have them finish a marathon, Olympic-distance triathlon or century at the end of the year. Study subjects were given ze plan: Start slowly; build in longer workouts and intervals after a few months of base training; then start doing some races, long runs (or rides) and finish with high-intensity sessions. Micro and macro cycles of rest were also built-in. The twelve subjects underwent extensive cardiac and fitness testing along the way. For the data-driven exerciser, it sounded like a dream.
This was much more than just another intriguing physiology study.
Serial MRI scans showed the hearts of slackers started to look like those of elite athletes. Fitness testing also showed major improvements–though it is never true that training like Lance makes you ride like Lance.
The striking and surprising findings have major implications for how doctors help patients achieve health.
I hope you want to read more about this study and my thoughts on it. I made strong statements about “normal” commitments to health. Some of this opinion delves into how humans balance life’s expectations. Previously on theHeart.org, my take of lifestyle choices has brought harsh criticism. That’s okay. Achieving health and avoiding excess medical care and harm are important topics for a cardiologist. Surely these are worthy reasons to euphemistically kick the hornet’s nest.
Here is the title and link to the short post: Seeing Exercise as the Best Medicine . . .