Exercise, Genetics, and Tragedy: What You Need to Know and What You Need to Do Now!


My father was going through his jogging stage at the time, and I knew that moral support was needed. His birthday was nearing, and the popularity of ‘The Complete Book of Running’ by Jim Fixx, made the choice of his birthday gift an obvious one. He wasn’t particularly dedicated yet to the runner’s favorite rituals, but I knew he needed to make better lifestyle choices. My hope was that this would encourage him.

Despite the best-selling, craze-starting runner’s bible, and the family’s encouragement, his jogging efforts remained half-hearted at best.

When the news of Jim Fixx’s death spread, it became the unbeatable excuse for my father to stop jogging.

Jim Fixx had changed his life from an overweight, two-pack-a-day smoker, to a fitness icon. But he brought along damage that had already been done, and probably a genetic predisposition, as well.

For a fascinating look that sums up the mood of the time, read this New York Times article:


A few years later, I received a call from the hospital informing me that my father was undergoing emergency bypass surgery.

Both of these men refused to seek routine medical checkups. From what I understand in the case of Jim Fixx, he displayed no symptoms (or, just didn’t tell anyone). But because his father died prematurely from heart problems, and because of his own previous issues with smoking and weight, regular checkups should have been sought.

From the hospital bed after surgery, my father recounted how he, for years, was short of breath after climbing the stairs from the basement. I couldn’t believe that this was the first time he was telling me this.


The suggestions that you see your doctor before engaging in an exercise program are not simply to guard against lawsuits over non-disclosure.

Ignoring your body signals is a stupid, deadly denial of reality, whether or not you choose to exercise!

Exercise can be a tremendous stress, albeit a positive one, on your system. Read this post:


Weightlifting is an excellent form of exercise. Because it can cause extreme spikes in blood pressure when doing maximum efforts, arterial walls are stressed beyond normal. See your doctor and know beforehand if you have a potential problem. Weight Training can be enjoyed by everyone, but if you’re predisposed to such an issue, your pace and effort should be adjusted accordingly.


There is no substitute for common sense. None.

Train Safely and Respect Your Signs,


Become a part of ‘Senior Fitness Issues And Ideas’–a Google+ Community, (even if you’re not a senior) and I will gladly answer your exercise and fitness questions personally!

The Senior Health and Fitness Blog by Steven Siemons is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Categories: Exercise, Fitness, Weight Lifting


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