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Mayo Clinic on the Summer Olympic Games: Better Athletes, the Physiology of Performance, the Lactate Threshold, the Aging Athlete and Much More
Date:7/31/2008

says.

"So what the Kenyans have added is altitude training, hard training and large numbers of highly motivated people, but their physiological data is not dramatically different from other people. I think you can make the same argument for the Eastern Europeans after World War II. If you were a pretty good athlete, the government offered you and your family incentives to train in an otherwise bleak economic landscape," Dr. Joyner says.

Doping

"One of the sad things in last 30 to 40 years of sport has been the emergence of the pharmacological arms race, or doping," Dr. Joyner says.

Creating reliable tests for these illegal compounds has been difficult. Several recent studies show that testing in humans for both steroids and erythropoietin (EPO), a hormone that induces red blood cell production, is very difficult. In testing for EPO, for example, a study suggests the tests are ineffective unless administered shortly after having taken EPO, because EPO doesn't have a long life in the body. But EPO's effects can last for months.

Another study suggests that it is very difficult to detect the use of some steroids through urine tests in some ethnic groups.

"Researchers have started to test the tests and have raised questions about the accuracy of the existing tests. They've shown that if you don't do the test soon after people take the drug, it may be very difficult to detect (especially if EPO is take in low doses)," Dr. Joyner says.

The Bottom Line: Keep Moving

"Remember, while it's fun to watch sports and while we will all be tempted to sit in front of the TV to watch the Olympics. The really important thing is to get out and move. One hundred and fifty minutes of physical activity a week is really the most powerful medicine anybody can prescribe. No matter what your level of fitness - even if it's just walking - try to be as physically active as you possibly can because that's the way to be a healthy old person a
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SOURCE Mayo Clinic
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