Editorial: Too Much Vigorous Exercise Can Damage Heart

Extreme exercise may erase cardiovascular benefits achieved with moderate exercise

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Limiting vigorous exercise to 30 to 50 minutes a day will ensure cardiovascular benefit, without risking cardiovascular damage, according to an editorial published online Nov. 29 in Heart.

In response to comments from a previously published article, James H. O'Keefe, from Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo., and Carl J. Lavie, from the University of Queensland School of Medicine in New Orleans, have written an editorial based on a literature review of the benefits of regular moderate exercise versus chronic extreme exercise.

The authors note that regular vigorous exercise is the best single step a person can take to ensure robust cardiovascular health. However, evidence from previous studies suggests that there is a point of diminishing returns whereby greater exercise efforts do not appear to translate into lower death risk. Additionally, excessive exercise can cause cardiovascular damage, overriding the benefits of exercise. High-intensity exercise with a duration of over one to two hours causes acute volume overload of the atria and right ventricle, causing overstretching and micro-tears in the myocardium, presenting as a transient rise in cardiac biomarkers.

"Running too fast, too far, and for too many years may speed one's progress towards the finish line of life," O'Keefe and Lavie conclude.

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