Challenging Beliefs

Dr Tim Noakes, MD, DSc

Dr Tim Noakes challenges the myths of health and sports performance through his career as scientist and medical researcher. Common misconceptions (or once common beliefs) Dr Noakes and his team have disproved include:

  • Marathon runners cannot die of a heart attack.
  • Exercisers would die if they did not drink enough.
  • Exercisers should drink beyond thirst (see old and new hydration recommendations).
  • Limitations of muscle physiology (ie: oxygen supply, lactic acid, etc) determine exercise performance and motivation is irrelevant.
  • It is impossible to swim a kilometer near the north pole in nothing but Speedos.

Tim Noakes, MD, DSc, is Discovery Health professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and known throughout the academic community for the high-caliber nature of his scientific insights and work. He is also director of the Medical Research Council/University of Cape Town Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa in Newlands. Noakes was awarded a doctorate in science (DSc) in 2002, the highest degree awarded by the University of Cape Town. Publishing the first scientific article on exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH) is considered among his greatest achievements.

Noakes is a veteran of more than 70 marathons and ultra-marathons, and his book Lore of Running (2003) is considered a classic by serious distance runners. More recently, he published Waterlogged where he challenges many long standing misconceptions about hydration.

In addition, Noakes is an editorial board member for many international sport science journals and a former president of the South African Sports Medicine Association. In 1996, he presented the prestigious J.B. Wolffe Memorial Lecture at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting. In 1999, he was elected as one of 22 founding members of the International Olympic Committee’s Olympic Science Academy. The National Research Foundation of South Africa considers Noakes an A-rated scientist, and in 2008 he received the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver) from the president of South Africa.

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