Weakened immune system and cognitive impairment is great news for Tony Abbott

In yet another great week for Tony Abbott (@tonyabbottMHR), the Opposition Leader has admitted that he hadn’t really recovered from the Ironman event before embarking on a 1000km bike ride.

There is no evidence that the drink in Mr Abbott's hand is alcoholic.

“To tell you the truth, I don’t think I’m really recovered from the Ironman. I think I needed a longer break. That might have been a bit of a mistake. But I’m fine, I’ll get there.”

While some have criticised Tony Abbott for his extreme exercise regime, which health experts have warned could impede his cognitive functions and cause heart strain.

Physiologist Adam Fraser described the alternative prime minister’s recent exercise regime as “extreme” and warned he might be prone to overtraining – weakening his immune system, making him vulnerable to colds and causing sleep disorders.

This week has seen a major national debate on health care reform. While the Prime Minister and Labor premiers were tackling the important issues to Australians, Tony Abbott was “rumoured to be “on the sauce” the night before.”

Mr Abbott is well known for undertaking extreme physical activity without adequate preparation – something that can be both physically and mentally unhealthy – but surely no one would accuse Tony Abbott of embarking on the final leg of his 1000km bike ride while under the effects of excessive alcohol consumption.

After all, who would accuse Mr Abbott of such poor judgment and recklessness?


A Columbia University paper into the effects of extreme exercise from marathons is concerning.

But what about the effects of heavy, strenuous exercise? Research into the physiological effects of marathon running, the event on which we focus in the present study, suggests the possibility of maladaptive consequences. Dehydration, gastrointestinal bleeding, muscle damage, immune suppression, and even sudden cardiac death have all been reported (see Uchakin, Gotovtseva, & Stray-Gundersen, 2003). Marathon running also greatly increases production of cortisol and norepinephrine, hormones that are elevated by physiological and emotional stress. Marathon runners’ cortisol levels have been documented (Cook, Ng, Read, Harris, & Riad-Fahmy, 1987) to rise fourfold above the highest levels induced by the most common laboratory-based stress task, the Trier Social Stress Task (Kirschbaum, Pirke, & Hellhammer, 1993). Indeed, cortisol levels recorded 30 min after completion of a marathon rival those reported in military training and interrogation (Taylor et al., 2007), rape victims being treated acutely (Resnick, Yehuda, Pitman, & Foy, 1995), severe burn injury patients (Norbury, Herndon, Branski, Chinkes, & Jeschke, 2008), and first-time parachute jumpers (Aloe et al., 1994). Other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, are similarly elevated in marathon running (Demers, Harrison, Halbert, & Santen, 1981). Leading experts (Sapolsky, 2004, p. 104) have concluded that marathon running is one of the most stressful activities in which normal, neurologically intact humans engage. The affective valence of marathon running is, of course, quite different from that of the traumatic situations referenced above. However, the physiological response is on a par with these events.

(Reviewing on physical exercise and the cognitive function, my emphasis.)