Q: I am a 66 year old male — fairly fit — 5’8′ and weigh around 157 (before exercise – biking) and 152 (after) … resting hearth rate around 44 .. I bike quite a bit around 800 – 900 miles / month and Ascending in Average around 40K ft. Average speed of 15 – 16 MPH. Just wondering if I am doing too much?
Also, on the extreme HR — how long I should maintain above 150 bits /Min. 10 Min or 1 hour ok?
I got concerned after reading the paper by James OKeefe and his Ted talk …
I also X-C Ski winter times — best I have done is Gold Rush in 3 hours some years ago..
This is a great question & a lot of people will appreciate the perspective outlined.
On paper, looking at your stats everything looks awesome measured up against generic standards.
Your stats indicate that you are in optimal health, your BMI is optimal, and you have an excellent RHR resting heart rate according to general health standards.
Using generic HR calculations against your age, your average max heart rate (100%) would be between 150-155bpm. I would recommend no more than and average of 10min total for a workout, no more than twice a week-which could very well happen naturally on a hilly ride.
* Note, the 150-155bmp is a gross estimate and will never be as specific as if you were to go to a lab and perform a VO2Max test at your local hospital/cardiac rehab center or sports science institute.
So far, let’s recap: According to US guidelines, you are in great shape for your age and what you’ve been doing has been working, clinically.
My emphasis on clinically is this: your workouts are doing what they are supposed to in terms of maintaining your fitness, on paper. Looking under the hood, into your physiology, however, may or may not be an entirely different story.
Though we can’t predict if your routine is the best for increasing life longevity, it is very difficult to dismiss the research from James O’Keef and Carl Lavie supporting the notion that exercise Rx lies on a U-shaped curve…too little you won’t benefit, but too much and you subject your heart to micro-tears that become increasingly hard to heal as we age. The fact is, intense exercise expedites cell damage/turnover and induces DNA repair-things that can wear your body down and out, but it’s important to realize too, that, holistically, your quality of life is better when you workout. The question is, how much is best? Particularly now that the number of intense-endurance athletes who die from cardiac abnormalities associated with cardiac overloading is too great for them to be considered outliers at this point. In summery, if you are at all concerned about how your cardiovascular system is responding to the stress of exercise as you are aging, it is worth contacting your primary healthcare provider to see if they can refer you to a cardiac center who can run some scans and tell you how things are looking…be specific when working with practitioners and explain you are interested in understanding if exercise could be a risk factor in your Troponin T levels.
On to another important element to your routine: I give caution to doing the same activities – especially if you are doing it by yourself everyday. For overall fitness, strength and general health, I would encourage adding workouts that challenge your range of motion so that you are operating in all planes of motion. Skate skiing is a great counter balance to cycling all summer, but I would also add swimming and sports that involve coordination like tennis, racquetball, volleyball, basketball or even badminton. Yoga, of course is great for stretching and strengthening small muscle groups needed for structural health, that get neglected in our typical endurance sport lifestyle. I know it can be a big pill to swallow for someone who has been a solo endurance athlete for years, and for many skiers who are chronic (and ironic) overexercises, but leading research since 2009 does show that multidimensional exercise at the right dosage really is a prescription for higher quality health.
Karmen Whitham M.S.