Introducing the newest member of the VQ advisory team: Dr. Philip Skiba. We’re excited to have him on board!
Athletes (and doctors!) are often nervous about doing or recommending high intensity training. The concern is that high intensity exercise might place a person at greater risk of a myocardial infarction (MI) or “heart attack.” However, high intensity exercise is known to give greater improvements in aerobic capacity and cardiac protection than moderate intensity exercise. The thing is, very few people have gone through the trouble of trying to find out how much risk there is. For my first article for VQ, I thought I’d offer a few thoughts.
A great study was published back in 2012. The reason it is important is that it looked at patients referred for cardiac rehabilitation. In other words, these people were not great athletes. Moreover, their average age was about 58 years! Many had already had an MI, angioplasty or heart surgery. In short, these were the kind of patients that make doctors nervous. They were split into two groups: one group did moderate training at less than 70% of HRpeak, the other group did four-minute intervals at 85% to 95% of HRpeak.
So what happened? Well, a total of 129,000 hours of moderate exercise was done and a total of 46,000 hours of high intensity intervals was done. In all this time, there was one fatal cardiac arrest–and that happened in the moderate training group. There were two cardiac arrests in the high intensity group, but both patients survived.
The point is this: high intensity exercise is not nearly as risky as some might believe. Does this mean everyone should go out and start crushing intervals immediately? Of course not. If this type of training is new to you, it’s important to talk to your doctor, review your history, physical exam and medications and determine what is safe. I am more than happy to see any of you in my office in Park Ridge for a full consultation and answer any personal questions you might have. We also have a complete exercise physiology lab on-site if we need to do any testing.
See you at the races!
(The Real) Dr. Phil
Dr. Philip Skiba has a strong background in sports medicine, plus a PhD in human physiology. He has worked with amateur and elite athletes for many years and has personally trained a number of world-class professional athletes, including several world champions. He’ll be around VQ, so grab him when you see him.