How much physical activity is too much physical activity?

How much physical activity is too much physical activity

Given the fact that exercise is needed to maintain a healthy body, which is necessary for a healthy life, people in all age groups have started taking exercise seriously. The key feature of exercise in addition to increased musculature and endurance is the healthy functioning of the heart. However, recent incidences have shown people with no prior cardiac conditions, getting heart attacks while exercising! The surprising thing is that these attacks are occurring in people in the age group of 30-40, actually considered to be the most health-conscious among all age groups. Now, this does beg the question; how much is too much? Read on to find out answers to all your questions on exercise and heart health.

Why do people overexert during exercise, and does it have any benefit?

People exercise to get good health, and there are benefits associated linearly with heart health and exercise. People often take this line to the next level, thinking that if some exercise is good, more is better. While it may be true when it comes to muscle gains, it is not so for the heart. Having a lower heart rate is more beneficial, as it permits the person to exercise longer. Evolving evidence and recent incidences show that overexerting has the opposite effect on the heart.

What are the evolving pieces of evidence and their effects?

The primary evidence which demonstrated the damaging effects of extreme exercising, was the presence of heart-damaging biomarkers in blood samples of marathon runners, long after finishing the events.

In addition, repeated stress on the heart due to over-exercising has shown changes in the heart such as thickened heart walls to counter the increased pressure of blood flow. While these changes may be temporary if occurring sporadically, often reversible if given time, repeated stresses not only thicken the blood vessels and heart walls but also cause scarring of the heart.

What are the long-term effects of over-exerting your body during exercise?

The recommended time is 150 minutes. In a study conducted by Mayo Clinic, people were measured for their heart health for a period of 3 to 8 follow-ups depending on the type of exercise they do. The results indicated that going over the recommended limit had greater risks of developing coronary artery calcification (CAC). People who worked out for 3 times the recommended time i.e., for 450 minutes a week, had a 27% increased chance of developing CAC. Not only this, over-exerting for a person without any endurance training, can lead to exercise-associated sudden cardiac death. The reason for this is that the heart is just not strong enough to handle the stress laid on it!

So that means, I shouldn’t exercise at all?

We never said that, did we? In fact, not exercising has far more deadly effects on the heart than exercising ever will have. Having a sedentary lifestyle increases obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Now, these conditions may seem unrelated, but they do massively affect the heart.

Obesity can lead to increased cholesterol levels, which cause the cholesterol to deposit inside the arteries, a condition called atherosclerosis. Once this happens, the arteries get thicker, forcing the heart to apply more pressure to pump blood. Atherosclerosis is one of the primary causes of sudden cardiac arrests in people with a sedentary lifestyle.

How much exercise should then be done to keep the heart healthy?

As mentioned above, the most accepted measure to have a healthy heart is 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise per week. Moderate exercise includes brisk walking, hiking, tennis, or jumping rope. Intense exercise includes running, sports or weights.

As a rule of thumb, your threshold should be a level, where you can have a conversation while exercising, without feeling shortness of breath. In addition, resistance training can be done to lower the heart rate and increase the amount of exercise the heart can tolerate, but only under the supervision of a licensed trainer and in consultation with your doctor.

Dr. Mohit Singh Tandon is a competent consultant physician and non-invasive cardiologist who have had expertise in all heart related problems and will give you the correct guidance in how to keep the heart healthy. Dr tandons evexia is your stop for a healthy heart. Book an appointment today!

Contact us at:

Sai Baba Mandir, D block -129, Saket, New Delhi, Delhi 110017

+91-7835856540, +91-9737381110

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