After recent research suggested that too much running could lead to an early death, two newer studies find that too much high-intensity exercise could give way to heart problems.
The first study was done by German researchers who tracked more than 1,000 people, primarily in their 60s, who had current heart disease. They had also enrolled in an exercise regimen to prevent continued heart health problems. Not surprisingly, the least physically-active people were at a greater risk for heart problems and earlier death- but surprisingly, the most active group who did strenuous physical activity each day also had a greater risk of dying of heart complications than people who were active between two and four times a week, the study shows.
The second study was conducted by Swedish researchers who questioned more than 44,000 men between 45 and 79 about their physical activity levels at different ages throughout their lives. Researchers also evaluated the men’s heart health for approximately 12 years, looking especially for atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat variation. The most active men (those who did intense exercise for more than five hours each week) were 19 percent likelier to have developed an irregular heartbeat by age 60 than those who exercised less than one hour weekly. When it came to men who exercised more than five hours a week when they were younger but for less than one hour a week by age 60, their risk for irregular heartbeat increased by 49 percent. But older exercisers weren’t as likely to develop atrial fibrillation than men who didn’t exercise at all.
Both studies were published in the journal Heart, and “describe a similar U-shaped or reverse J-shaped pattern for the dose-response effect of exercise: maximum cardiovascular benefits are obtained if performed at moderate doses, while these benefits are lost with (very) high-intensity and prolonged efforts,” discussed researchers in an editorial on the subject.
The studies only add to growing proof that more exercise isn’t necessarily better for you- but the editorial authors hold by the notion that some exercise is certainly superior to none at all. “The benefits of exercise are definitely not to be questioned; on the contrary, they should be reinforced,” the researchers offer. “The studies reviewed here, and future studies, will serve to maximize benefits obtained by regular exercise while preventing undesirable effects — just like all other drugs and therapies.”
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