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Are Triathlons Too Dangerous? Busy Woman’s Guide to an Active Lifestyle

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I’ve been thinking about doing a triathlon to help me lose some of the baby weight but am worried about the stories about people dying in the swimming part. Is it safe?

That depends.

I’m a big fan of triathlons, especially the women-only events, but you shouldn’t make the decision to do one without a visit to your doctor and some thought.

Working toward the goal of completing a triathlon is a great way to ramp up your workouts and stay motivated. Thinking you can go ahead and do an “off the couch” isn’t such a good idea. Even at the sprint distance (half-mile swim, twelve-mile bike and ten-kilometer run), a triathlon is an event for which you must train. Find a good training program through a local gym, tri club or online. A good program will take you through at least 12 weeks of increasing workouts and get you prepared.

The physical exertion combined with the excitement (and/or anxiety) about the race will cause your heart rate to be quite high - especially during the swim and during the transitions between the swim, bike and run. People with underlying heart and other health issues should talk with a doctor to be sure they are healthy enough to withstand the strain.

Be smart on race day. If it is hot or humid, (or very cold and rainy) your body will be under additional strain. Make wise choices about what you eat and drink. Slow down or take a rest if you need to let your body adjust. If you feel chest pain or shortness of breath stop and tell someone immediately.

If you are losing weight during your training, do it wisely. Losing pounds too rapidly can cause changes in your body chemistry, putting your heart under more strain during exertion.

Go ahead: set your goal to finish a triathlon (with your doctor’s blessing, of course). Get motivated and train wisely — and let me know how it goes!

Thanks for your question!

Get more valuable information in Eliz’s new book, The Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Heart, or in her award-winning blog.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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