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Can you exercise too much? That is the question that a group of researchers set out to answer by reviewing several studies  — and what they found is surprising.
According to Dr. Paul Thompson, chief of cardiology at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, and an avid runner, “There is no evidence that there is a level of exercise that is dangerous or too much for a normal, healthy person.”
But those who participate in frequent exercise training can expect to experience “profound changes in cardiac physiology and structure,” and it may not always be a good thing as these changes can actually mimic heart damage…
The researchers found that following strenuous workouts or events, cardiac cells often becoming “leaky,” releasing proteins into the bloodstream that, in different circumstances, could be indicative of a heart attack.
These proteins usually disappear within a few days, and the heart seems to recover fully. But the potential for hidden danger may increase for those who regularly take part in strenuous exercise…
That’s because, according to the studies, older marathon runners can be just as susceptible as their less athletic counterparts to atherosclerosis, or plaque build-up in the arteries—especially if other lifestyle habits or heredity predispose them to it.
Most likely these older athletes are completely unaware of the danger lurking in their arteries—so they continue to give it their all—not knowing that the act of strenuous exercise increases the likelihood that the plaques will rupture, precipitating a heart attack.
And the studies confirm this: Often, someone with atherosclerosis is more likely to have a heart attack while running than while sitting quietly.
Another disturbing find in the review revealed that the benefits associated with exercise follow a bell curve. Strenuous exercise appears to provide protection against poor cardiovascular health at first, but at some point, those benefits tend to level off or even decline.
Does all of this mean you shouldn’t exercise? Not at all. But what it does show is that strenuous is not always best.
Plain and simple, you don’t have to exercise every single day and you don’t have to be an extreme athlete to benefit from exercising.
Walking, lunges, a few laps in a pool, yardwork that works up a sweat… these are all legitimate forms of exercise, and nothing that’s going to put a damper on your day or your time.
Unfortunately, the word “exercise” has been co-opted by the mainstream health nuts to mean hours of jogging, cardio, jumping around like a maniac and plain old exhaustion. It’s unpleasant. You don’t want to do it. No one does. It’s painful and takes too much time.
The most important thing you need to do is raise your heart rate and get your body to do some work. Some exercise gurus want you to burn fat while you exercise and some don’t. Some want you to work out for 45 minutes, and some for seven. Some want you to do intervals, and some to keep going throughout the workout with little rest.
The truth lies somewhere in between—and needs to be what works best for you. That way you’ll stick to it.