Has Research Proven That Exercise Is Bad For Your Heart?

Exercise is good for you… right? Everyone knows eating right, exercising, reducing stress and routine maintenance check-ups are the key to living up to your genetic potential. Well, a new study just found a certain type of exercise seems to be bad for your heart. Here’s the scoop: Not too long ago, researchers conducted a study on the heart health of a group of very fit older athletes — men who had been part of a National or Olympic team in distance running or rowing, or runners who had completed at least 100 marathons. All of the men had trained and competed throughout their adult lives and continued to strenuously exercise. The results were not good. Half of these lifelong athletes showed evidence of heart muscle scarring. None of the younger athletes or the older non-athletes had fibrosis in their hearts. The affected men were the ones who had trained the longest and hardest. Now, a new study done on rats has reproduced similar findings.

In this study, published in the journal, Circulation, Canadian and Spanish scientists prodded young, healthy male rats to run at an intense pace, day after day, for three months, which is the equivalent of about 10 years, in human terms. At the beginning of the study, the rats had perfectly normal hearts. At the end of the training period, heart scans showed that most of the rodents had developed diffuse scarring and some structural changes, similar to the changes seen in the human endurance athletes. A control group of rats did not develop the heart changes, but when the rats stopped running, their hearts returned to normal within 8 weeks.

What Does All This Mean For You?

According to Dr. Paul Thompson, the Chief of Cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, and an expert on sports cardiology, in terms of exercise, unless you are going to the extreme like the elite athletes in the study, probably not much. He was one of the peer reviewers for the British athlete study. He said, “How many people are going to join the 100 Marathon club or undertake a comparable amount of training? Not many. Too much exercise has not been a big problem in America. Most people just run to stay in shape, and for them, the evidence is quite strong that endurance exercise is good [for the heart].”

So, What IS Important For You In All Of This?

One word: Moderation. Health really seems to be all about moderation. That goes for the foods you eat, the exercise you do and the stress you deal with. Not enough is not good, but too much can be just as bad. Sadly, most people think if something is good – more is better. There is an optimal level or range for everything. Above or below that level – for any length of time – leads to abnormal stress, strain and problems. When you are looking to get in shape and be healthy, you must first discover the proper definitions of in shape and health.

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