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6 health tests you should take before running a marathon

Planning to run a marathon, get these tests done first!

Written by Poorva Chavan |Published : January 11, 2016 4:40 PM IST

Running a marathon is fast becoming a fad, with many non-runners preparing for it in advance. While you should train ahead, it is also important to watch what you eat and improve your endurance so you can run the desired distance, there are a few things that you still cannot control. Many athletes suffer a cardiac arrest or their blood pressure shoots up and they collapse while running. Dr Nilesh Shah, Group President & SBU Head, West India, Metropolis Healthcare explains that the body undergoes many changes as one ages and these changes should not be taken for granted. Here are 10 nutrition tips for marathon runners. He also listed a few questions every participant should ask himself before running the marathon.

  1. Do I have any family history of diabetes/blood pressure/heart disease?
  2. What are the risks associated with running a marathon?
  3. Am I fit to run the marathon?

If you suffer from high blood pressure or any heart disease, you should avoid running. To gauge how fit you are, visit a qualified physician and get a thorough check up done. Here are the tests you must do!

1. Complete Blood Count (CBC) --This test measures your haemoglobin levels, the amount of white blood cells and platelets in your blood. It simply sigfnifies if you are free from infections and how good your immunity is. Here's all you need to know about a CBC test.

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Importance--Haemoglobin levels and cell count within the normal range is an overall indication of a healthy and fit individual.

2. Diabetes test

a. HBA1c, also called the glycated haemoglobin test--It is used to diagnose type 2 diabetes. It measures the amount of sugar attached to the haemoglobin in the blood.

b. Fasting Plasma Glucose (FPG) test--This test measures the blood glucose levels after the person has been fasting for eight hours.

c. D3 Hydroxybutyrate test-- It measures the ketone level in the blood to detect diabetic ketoacidosis, which is a life-threatening complication of diabetes.

Importance--Marathon training is rigorous and it tends to lower blood glucose levels. These tests can help diabetics keep a track of blood glucose and insulin levels, which will help them plan their training better. Know more about other life saving tests every diabetic should get done.

3. Cardiac health tests

a.Lipid Profile--This tests maps your serum and blood lipid levels and can estimate the HDL/LDL ratio. Know more about what HDL and LDL really mean and its importance.

Importance--High LDL level is detrimental to the heart because it combines with other molecules and tends to clog the arteries. HDL removes the LDL molecules and protects the heart against the effects of LDL.

b. Creatine PhosphoKinase (CPK) test--The CPK tests measures the amount of enzyme creatine phosphokinase in the blood. The enzyme is found primarily in the heart, skeletal muscles and brain tissue and the test measures the damage to heart muscle.

Importance-- High CPK levels in the blood indicate a muscle/ heart/ brain injury that can be aggravated by intense training for the marathon.

c. ECG/Stress test--ECG or the electro cardiogram measures the electrical signals that travel through the heart.

Importance-This monitors the functioning of the heart, which can help in preventing sudden heart failure post marathon.

4. Calcium and vitamin D tests for bone health

Importance--Vitamin D and calcium are important for maintaining bone and muscle health. Low levels of these indicate that you may be prone to ligament or muscle tear or bone injuries. These deficiencies also prolong the healing process.

5. Kidney Function Test

Importance-- Kidneys play a significant role in maintaining the water and salt balance in body, thereby maintain the body's blood pressure. It also plays an important role in the production of RBCs. A well-functioning kidney is critical for intense marathon training. Here are 8 tests you should get done to check if your kidneys are working fine.

6. Liver Function Test

Importance--Liver plays an important role in digestion, metabolism and detoxification. During marathon training, toxins are produced in the body that need to be eliminated and hence monitoring the liver becomes necessary. Check if your liver is functioning fine with these tests.

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