Too much exercise 'can weaken the heart'

18 June 2012

While regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight has long been known to boost overall health, a new study has suggested that too much can actually damage people's hearts.

According to a study posted in the June issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, extreme endurance running and cycling could have an adverse effect on the heart by weakening the organ.

Dr Carl Lavie, cardiologist and study co-author, said he is not advising people against doing plenty of exercising, such as running a marathon, but there is evidence that going above and beyond the traditional realms of fitness could be dangerous.

The expert studied 50 different cases between 1991 and 2002 and found that frequent marathon runners had a higher proportion of myocardial scarring and a significantly higher risk of coronary heart disease.

"We're not saying people shouldn't run a marathon, but it's worth people knowing that there are risks," Dr Lavie stated.

His study co-author James H O'Keefe, also a cardiologist, said that physical exercise, though not a drug, possesses many traits of a powerful pharmacologic agent.

He added: "However, as with any pharmacologic agent, a safe upper-dose limit potentially exists, beyond which the adverse effects of physical exercise, such as musculoskeletal trauma and cardiovascular stress, may outweigh its benefits."

Posted by Jeanette Royston

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