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Exercise: Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing? — Physician’s First Watch

Medical News |
May 19, 2014

Exercise: Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?

By Larry Husten

Two studies in the journal Heart suggest that health benefits may be curtailed in people who exercise very frequently or very intensely.

In the first study, researchers analyzed data from exercise questionnaires and hospital records of nearly 45,000 Swedish men. Men who exercised intensively more than 5 hours a week at the age of 30 were more likely to develop atrial fibrillation (AF) than men who exercised less than 1 hour a week. Their risk was even higher if they subsequently quit exercising later in life.

In the second study, researchers followed more than 1000 patients with coronary heart disease. Overall, patients who exercised strenuously 2–4 days a week had the lowest risk for death and cardiovascular events. But there was an increase in risk in both the group who rarely exercised and in those who exercised every day.

Editorialists speculate that intensive exercise may have a proinflammatory effect that may be especially harmful in some people with atherosclerotic disease.

Adapted from CardioExchange.

Reader Comments (6)

Dr. V Kantariya MD Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice

Favourite Saying"Genetics may load the gun,but environment pulls the Trigger". We can`t finally answer questions about nature vs nurture. Incidence of SCA in young adults 0.9 and 2.3 per 100000 for nonathletes and athletes, respectively (AHA Statement),studies in 2US states estimated deartn rate to be 7.6 to 25 times higher during exertion than during leisurely activities. Too much running tied to short life span( Masters Running Study, 2014. How much is too Much? And how to prevent SCA? Automated external defibrilator (AED) in place and implantable cardioverter-defibrilator (ICD) for right patient are answers. CHOOSING WISELY: AED , ICD for SCA, or late detection of a corpse.

Richard Heilman Physician, Radiology, retired professor University of Vermont College of Medicine

Sudden death during exercise at either demanding or modest levels of exertion and especially in the young, has been well described in patients with a single coronary artery as a congenital abnormality. I have personally seen two such cases. Without a post mortem of course, the diagnosis can never be made but overtraining as an etiology or too great exertion is unsupportable and a misleading claim.

Dr. V Kantariya MD Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice

Double Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah required emergency resuscitation after collapsing after finishing the New York half marathon. Intensive exercise-induced arrythmia significantly increases the risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). SCA and High Sport, that is a problem.

Dr. V Kantariya MD Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice

Healthy 16-year-old girl drops dead after completing a half marathon ,collapsing just yards after the finish line.Cameron Gallagher, a sophomore at Douglas Freeman High School, was athletic and had worn awards as a competitive swimmer. Her devastated parents said their daughter completed the race in 2 hours and 19 minutes. The cause of death is still not known, family believes it`s cardiac related. By DAILY MAIL REPORTER, 18 March 2014.

Otto I. Molvær Physician, Otolaryngology, Norway

Dr Kantariya seems to think that finishing a half marathon in 2h 20min is a high load of exercise causing hemodynamic stress. I think anyone can walk backwards that distance in that time. A lower exercise load would be to sit in a chair - which is a health risk in itself.

Dr. V Kantariya MD Physician, Family Medicine/General Practice

A high load of exercise means hemodynamic stress (for example half marathon in two hours and 20 minutes). In the early 19th century described irregular heartbeat after strenous physical activity as "delirium cordis"=atrial fibrillation. (Prof, S.SHESTAKOV Atrial Fibrillation Moscow, 1948).

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