News of people falling down from a cardiac arrest after strenuous exercise has gotten many people scared. Rightly so, you exercise to live longer not the other way around. So let’s get some facts straight, as per research dated June 2020 by the University of Cambridge at least 3.9 million early deaths are being averted worldwide every year by people being physically active, using data from 168 countries. On the flip side, a study published in 2015 researchers reviewed 1,247 cases of sudden cardiac arrest in middle-aged men and women over an 11-year period. 63 of them occurred during exercise, most occurred in men, most of whom were jogging, playing basketball, or cycling. A more recent study by Canadian researchers in 2018 discovered that the incidence of sudden cardiac arrest during exercise was 1.45 per 100,000 population. The median age was 56.5 and 87.5% were male.
This goes to prove that the number of people who do suffer sudden cardiac arrest form exercise is very rare. In fact, Harvard medical school publication cites that two-thirds of the cases in the study of 2015 had an underlying heart condition and had experienced some form of pain during the weeks prior to the incident. So why the focus on the rare occurrences? Because we as a population are geared to notice the anomalies and are hardwired to zero in on anything that threatens our safety. Also, it makes for good sales in the news industry.
Having said that, no one wants to be that .01% who doesn’t make it for Christmas. Telling someone that they are part of a statistic is not very reassuring. So what can we do? While a risk-free world is an impossible feat to achieve mitigating risks is the next option. The Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q) was originally developed by the British Columbia Ministry of Health and can help you decide if you are ready to exercise safely, or if you might need a trip to your physician.
• Has your doctor ever said that you have a heart condition and that you should only do physical activity recommended by a doctor?
• Do you feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity?
• In the past month, have you had chest pain when you were not doing physical activity?
• Do you lose your balance because of dizziness or do you ever lose consciousness?
• Do you have a bone or joint problem (for example, back, knee, or hip) that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity?
• Is your doctor currently prescribing drugs (for example, water pills) for your blood pressure or a heart condition?
• Do you know of any other reason why you should not do physical activity?
If you answer yes to any of these questions then it is recommended that you consult your physician and physiotherapist if you have one. However, don’t let statics deter you from leading a healthy active life. You can still remain active and healthy by incorporating these life lifestyle changes:
- Go out for a daily walk or whatever movement you are able to do.
- Cycle, run or jog if you’re able to without stressing yourself.
- Do stretching exercises, pilates, or yoga for your muscles and joints.
- Take up an outdoor activity like gardening, fixing up your home, cleaning your front yard — great for stretching and bending.
- Walk your dog or your neighbor’s dog.
- Meet friends and family in parks or gardens instead of sitdown meals these tend to have additional mental and social health benefits.
Staying fit needs to be a lifestyle and not an option. Eat right, meditate, practice mindfulness, and stay active. Chances are you will lead a long, healthy, and happy life. Now those are statistics worth following.