Cardio: How many runners will collapse this weekend?

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The New York City Marathon is this weekend. It’s the world’s biggest race with more than 50,000 people running 26 miles non-stop. I wonder how many lives will be claimed this year.

I’m not exaggerating. It happens every time…

Last year in London, 31-year-old Army captain David Seath collapsed three miles from the finish line. He died a few hours later.

A couple years before that, two runners — ages 31 and 35 — died during a marathon in Raleigh, North Carolina.

I was unfortunate enough to witness this pattern firsthand…

About 30 years, I provided emergency care for marathon runners.

At one race, I saw a thin, young man fall to the ground just feet from our emergency aid station. His heart was beating erratically as we placed an oxygen mask over his blue lips.

Seconds later, another runner arrived at our station and keeled over. He was dizzy, weak and scared. He had a dangerously erratic heartbeat. This man was only in his early 20s.

The sad part is that marathon runners think they’re getting healthy by training for these long-distance runs. But the truth is, this kind of cardio is hurting your health.

I once asked a long-distance runner I knew why he dragged himself out of bed at 5 a.m. every morning, laced up his running shoes and pounded away on the treadmill for 45 minutes.

He told me he was tired of being overweight for years and never wanted to be fat again.

I admire his dedication. But here’s the thing…

Long-duration cardio exercise encourages your body to store fat.

The exercise industry has been lying to us for years. They still promote the idea that cardio workout lead to fat loss.

But they’ve got it all wrong.

Sure, cardio will help you burn fat for a while. You’ll even lose weight in the short term.

But long-duration exercise tells your body to make more fat the next time you exercise. And after a while, your body adapts and it gets very good at making and storing fat.

Fat is a starvation survival strategy. You put on and store fat because your body thinks it’s under duress. When you do 45 minutes of cardio, your body believes that having fat is a good thing… And it starts to adapt to gaining fat.

The next time you eat, you convert even more of your food into fat.

In the Western world, we’ve also mimicked this “starvation mode” with the nutrient content of our food.

When you eat starch-heavy foods from a bag or box — things like cereal, crackers and bread — your body goes into insulin overdrive. Insulin not only increases your body’s storage of fat, it decreases your body’s ability to burn fat.

I call this Environmental Lipogenic Syndrome. Lipogenic means the creation of fat.

As we get fatter and fatter, our bodies are deprived of the energy needed to do routine maintenance and fight disease and infection.

This is the root of all chronic diseases. It is the root of Syndrome Zero.

Syndrome Zero is scary. But it’s preventable — and even reversible.

Following my Zero Diet and eating low-glycemic foods is a great way to start. But you have to exercise to beat this epidemic.

But not any old workout will do. You need to work out for short periods at high exertion.

My PACE program was developed with this in mind.

If you’re new to the idea, your first PACE workout will be a single period of exertion followed by recovery. And it takes just 12 minutes a day.

Working Out With PACE

Here’s how it works:

You start at a speed and level of intensity that feels comfortable. Then you gradually increase your level of intensity until you are panting. When you reach this level of exertion you will stop and recover. That’s it.

Here’s an example of your first workout. It’s a period of exertion followed by recovery.

  1. Take your pulse and determine your heart rate at rest. The easiest way is to feel for your pulse right next to your windpipe. Count the number of beats for 6 seconds and multiply by 10. That is your resting heart rate per minute.
  2. Now walk, run, sprint, do jumping jacks, use an elliptical machine, swim laps, or whatever you can handle. Start at a speed and level of intensity that feels comfortable to you.
  3. Rest and recover.
  4. Do another set and increase your level of exertion until you are panting and breathing slightly. Note the time it takes you to get to this point.
  5. When you reach this level of exertion, stop. Now check your pulse again and determine your heart rate.
  6. Then recover.
  7. Do a second set, but increase the intensity again until you are out of breath.
  8. Recover again.

That’s it for the first time. Tomorrow, do this again, with a focus on slightly increasing the challenge each time. Then, every session, incrementally accelerate your exertion or recovery.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD

Al Sears, MD, CNS

P.S. My Zero Diet and PACE program are key to reversing Syndrome Zero. But there’s much more you can do. Click here to watch the next free video in the Syndrome Zero: The Root of All Chronic Diseases series.

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