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Study: Too Much Exercise Could Be Bad For Your Heart

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Over-indulgence of anything is never wise, and this too applies to the keep-fit gym routine you work so hard to maintain.

Over-exercising can be very dangerous and in particular, extremely strenuous workouts such as high-intensity training could be bad for the heart, a new study has warned.

An extensive review of studies to be published in the April issue of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology has found that intense exercise (we’re talking about the  vigorous, high-intensity, endurance stuff) can cause irreparable structural heart damage “with an increased risk of atrial fibrillations” otherwise known as heart rhythm problems, termed medically as arrhythmias.

According to the Australian researchers, intense endurance exercise may be “cardiotoxic” and could cause permanent structural changes in the heart.

Lead researcher Dr. Andre La Garche, M.D., Ph.D., and head of Sports Cardiology at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and his team reviewed 12 different studies on abnormal heart rhythms in athletes and endurance runners. Specifically, the studies focused on arrhythmia, which can lead to stroke or complete heart failure. La Gerche’s team found an undeniable correlation between the two, including in a 2011 study of his own that looked those who didn’t previously suffer from heart disease, and found that those patients who did were four times as likely to have engaged in endurance sports.

Naturally, more research is needed before a definitive link can be made, and as such, there’s no reason to cancel your gym membership just yet.

We’re really talking about people who engage in marathons, triathlons, things of that sort. Many, many hours of very intense training and endurance. We’re not talking about people who are working out two to three times a week for an hour or two

The review specifically cites that the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks. So, yes you can still workout as the researchers define extreme exercise as several hours of vigorous exercise nearly every single day — what you’d perhaps see from a professional sportsperson, but not an everyday yoga class habit. Such strenuous activity seven days a week is bound to have an effect on your body, so it’s all about finding a balance.

The study was held to “discuss the often questionable, incomplete, and controversial science behind the emerging concern that high levels of intense exercise may be associated with some adverse health effects,” he said. So yes, the results are still a work in progress.

“The answers regarding the healthfulness of ‘extreme’ exercise are not complete, and there are valid questions being raised. Given that this is a concern that affects such a large proportion of society, it is something that deserves investment,” he added.

While he agreed that a ‘couch potato’ lifestyle also carried equally adverse effects, he was keen to stress that like anything in life, you can have too much of a good thing, and this also equates to healthy living.

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