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Intense exercise causes mitochondrial damage even in elite athletes

haidut

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Hopefully, this post won't be interpreted as trying to bash exercise. Its goal is to simply draw attention to the fact that intense exercise can be detrimental even for elite athletes. While the damage the study observed was temporary, it is now known that (just like ionizing radiation) the damage of chronic stress / overtraining may be cumulative, which means it should be avoided as much as possible. Speaking of elite athletes - they are known to have much higher rates of CVD, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease after the completion of their careers, and some of them experience those issues while still actively competing and in top shape. So, the moral of the story to me is this - do not overtrain and/or avoid chronic stress (even if it appears mild)! Looking slim and fit is not always a sign of good health. If you feel like you are overstraining yourself (in exercise, work, social life, etc) it may be wise to take a break to allow for recovery. The motto "no pain, no gain" is probably a major cause behind many societal and physiological ills, and there is now a good amount of evidence exposing its falsehood.

https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00829.2020
Study finds intense training sessions temporarily impair mitochondrial function

"...In the research team's new study, the researchers worked with a small group of male elite athletes, many of whom held national titles or were internationally recognized for their performance in cycling and triathlon. The athletes participated in a four-week training program in their primary sport that consisted of two to four days of low-to-moderate–intensity endurance workouts, followed by three days of more intense training. The intense workouts included high-intensity interval training in the morning, followed by a seven-hour break and then a moderate-intensity cycling session in the afternoon. The total number of activity hours ranged between 12 and 20 per week for each volunteer. Though the men were used to heavy training, they were not accustomed to this specific workout schedule. To the research team's surprise, the highly trained participants' mitochondrial capacity was impaired after the month-long training period. "We thought that elite athletes should be more resistant against [these] kind of alterations," said Filip Larsen, Ph.D., of the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences and corresponding author of the study. Elite athletes may be able to prevent temporary mitochondrial impairment by listening to their bodies. Paying attention to changes such as "mood disturbances, reductions in maximal heart rate [during exercise] and muscles that feel heavy and unresponsive" may help top athletes pull back and avoid overtraining situations that could contribute to reduced mitochondrial content and function, Larsen explained. "Exercise is good for you, but too much unaccustomed training might have mitochondrial consequences."
 

SonOfEurope

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Jul 10, 2016
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Thanks again Georgy,

This is also why I advice the kids who PM me to keep "dah liftin' bruh" to short bursts spaced out by several days so they do not exhaust the muscle to failure and massively elevate prolactin.
 

equipoise

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I thought it's well known that pro elite sport is not the healthiest thing ever, these guys go all and to failure loads of times. Sure they have the best chefs and can devote all their time to recovery. But I'm also of the opinion if you're not undereating and actually take care of your calories / macros / sleep the net is gonna be positive.
Especially in younger people. Exercising regularly is the biggest factor that made my liver stores recover and I'm actuallly able to go longer without food. But then again I never train til complete exhaustion, day in-day out. It's just silly. Listen to your body and don't be afraid to take days/weeks off. Your mileage may vary, but it sure makes me feel better than just walks, and I don't find daily walks enough since my background is sports and I really feel proper exercising being beneficial.
 

Rafe

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Feb 26, 2016
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“Intense exercise causes mitochondrial damage especially in elite athletes”

And in distance running, Phidippides cardiomyopathy.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22222888/

Because everyone thinks running farther faster is the ultimate sign of this thing called health. But no supercentenarian has said, “I ran 10 miles a day & no sugar.” As any @Amazoniac can tell you.
 

PurpleHeart

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Jun 5, 2019
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“Intense exercise causes mitochondrial damage especially in elite athletes”

And in distance running, Phidippides cardiomyopathy.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22222888/

Because everyone thinks running farther faster is the ultimate sign of this thing called health. But no supercentenarian has said, “I ran 10 miles a day & no sugar.” As any @Amazoniac can tell you.
While this is true to some degree this study is about elite athletes and what almost all elite athletes have in common is the use of anabolic steroids and growth hormones along with a myriad other performance enhancing substances, so we cannot dismiss the fact that this could also play a role in the results.

While it is true that pushing your body too hard combined with the low sugar hysteria can damage the body this should not work as fearmongering against healthy activity, our bodies are pretty resilient and movement is a part of life, exercise can work wonders for our bodies, our bodies evolved to constantly be on the move, not sit in front of a screen all day.

Its like the ALS rugby study where the obvious conclusion is that anabolic steroids and constant head trauma increases the chances of ALS but people used the study to claim that exercising increases ALS chances which is completely misleading.

Humans evolved to be the second best endurance runners in the whole planet coming second only to kangaroos, so it's not like we aren't evolved for it.
 

Rafe

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@PurpleHeart
I agree with you. I intend no fear. I think the long slow distance of persistence hunting (for example) for that fresh meat, presumably with some glycogen of its own, is what humans were adapted to.
 

Tim Lundeen

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Feb 19, 2017
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Elite athletes need lots of calories, all of which include PUFA and other toxins. They are poisoning themselves at a high rate, on top of the chronic exercise stress.
 

Ritchie

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Nov 22, 2015
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I think there may be a conflation. While I don't doubt that long extended intense aerobic exercise such as that in marathons or even half marathons can be taxing and stressful on the body. I think that along with those that are very much into this type of training, comes a low carb, low sugar, low saturated fat, high protein, high PUFA type of dietary philosophy and mentality. The question then becomes how much of the detriment from these extreme forms of exercise comes from the lack of nutritional and metabolic support and how much from the actual exercise.

Take for instance someone that runs not a marathon, but rather 20 mins (approx 2 miles) at a steady pace outdoors (maybe some interval sprints) and does anaerobic workouts, eats Peaty with high sugar, high energy, saturated fats, balanced proteins and low PUFA. Stretching and so forth. I think in these scenarios the exercise is most likely metabolism boosting and stress hormone lowering. Having a cascade of positive effects if well supported by diet and metabolism.

The issues certainly arise when someone is metabolically and nutritionally challenged and continues to tax their system with long bouts of cardiovascular training. Otherwise there is a ton of human research showing the benefits exercise has in terms of longevity and metabolic function.
 

equipoise

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I think there may be a conflation. While I don't doubt that long extended intense aerobic exercise such as that in marathons or even half marathons can be taxing and stressful on the body. I think that along with those that are very much into this type of training, comes a low carb, low sugar, low saturated fat, high protein, high PUFA type of dietary philosophy and mentality. The question then becomes how much of the detriment from these extreme forms of exercise comes from the lack of nutritional and metabolic support and how much from the actual exercise.

Take for instance someone that runs not a marathon, but rather 20 mins (approx 2 miles) at a steady pace outdoors (maybe some interval sprints) and does anaerobic workouts, eats Peaty with high sugar, high energy, saturated fats, balanced proteins and low PUFA. Stretching and so forth. I think in these scenarios the exercise is most likely metabolism boosting and stress hormone lowering. Having a cascade of positive effects if well supported by diet and metabolism.

The issues certainly arise when someone is metabolically and nutritionally challenged and continues to tax their system with long bouts of cardiovascular training. Otherwise there is a ton of human research showing the benefits exercise has in terms of longevity and metabolic function.
Absolutely, exercise is always gonna be a net positive if the body is healthy since its gonna signal ample amounts of energy to you, pushing you subconsciously to exercise. The problem is the mouth breathing- undereating exercise which is just awful. However proper training is amazing no questions about it. When you feel like training, do it. When you don't, it's better to read a book or cook some nice food..the options are endless
 
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Aside from the fact that Mentzer or whatever it was called used massive doses of anabolic drugs ... the idea for a person who leads a "normal life" to train in high intensity once every 7-10 days I see a reasonable choice. In the remaining days he can take care with stretching, mobility and the right supplement / food ... as well as having more time for the remaining daily activities.
 

Ritchie

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Aside from the fact that Mentzer or whatever it was called used massive doses of anabolic drugs ... the idea for a person who leads a "normal life" to train in high intensity once every 7-10 days I see a reasonable choice. In the remaining days he can take care with stretching, mobility and the right supplement / food ... as well as having more time for the remaining daily activities.
Well if you feel your body can only handle a training sesh once every 7-10 days sure. If you can and want to do more and you feel nutritionally and metabolically supported to do so, go for it. Important to listen to your body on this one, and judge your recovery time and energy levels/sleep, temps, overall wellbeing, etc.

Absolutely, exercise is always gonna be a net positive if the body is healthy since its gonna signal ample amounts of energy to you, pushing you subconsciously to exercise. The problem is the mouth breathing- undereating exercise which is just awful. However proper training is amazing no questions about it. When you feel like training, do it. When you don't, it's better to read a book or cook some nice food..the options are endless
Agreed.
 

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