Heart Health

Thinking about training for a triathlon?

Careful preparation — including a consultation with your doctor — can help you stay safe.

 Image: © arpenko_ilia/Thinkstock

Whether you're a lifelong fitness enthusiast or returning to exercise after a hiatus, training for a triathlon could be a welcome way to focus your workout. These competitions, which combine swimming, bicycling, and running, have grown in popularity in recent years, including among older adults. According to USA Triathlon, the sport's governing body, more than 40% of all members are in the 40-to-59 age group — and some are in their 80s.

However, a recent study documenting the odds of dying during these events may have given pause to some would-be triathletes (see "Death and cardiac arrest in triathletes"). That's unfortunate, because the risk is really, really low, says Dr. Aaron L. Baggish, director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. "These findings shouldn't scare people away from doing triathlons. But the study does identify some issues about these events that are worth understanding," he says.

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