Go steady, marathoners! How over-exercising impacts cardiac physiology

Bipeenchandra Bhamre, Cardio-thoracic surgeon, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre
Exercise is considered one of the best remedies for cardiovascular diseases, so it’s not a surprise that the rising number of marathon events have led to many turning runners overnight.

However, beginning an intense exercise regimen suddenly, and when you’re middle-aged, will not keep heart diseases at bay. Those with risk factors, especially those with family medical history of cardiovascular diseases, should consult a physician prior to starting an intense workout regime.

Moderate amount of exercise, though, is advised and can be carried out all through your life. Excessive exercise can lead to a rhythm disturbance and, in turn, to atrial fibrillation that increases the risk of a stroke, and can cause weakness and breathlessness. It is essential to recognise that exercise should be limited to a certain amount, and that excessive exercising would not reap greater cardiovascular benefits, instead it can cause cardiovascular harm.

Optimum exercise levels

The optimum amount of exercise comprises a workout regimen of about 45-50 minutes each day, which includes 30 per cent of strenuous exercise where sweating is involved. According to certain studies published in 2015, those who indulge in 450 minutes per week of exercise get long-term mortality benefit of 39 per cent compared to those who don’t exercise at all. However, those exercising for three hours a day get a mortality benefit of only 30 per cent, which is equivalent to those who work out for 150 minutes per week. If those who are genetically prone to heart diseases run for longer distances, it can cause harm to the heart in the form of arrhythmias and diastolic dysfunction, as seen in some endurance athletes.

Impact of excessive exercising

Mitochondrion is found in most cells and contains enzymes that aids cell metabolism. During exercise, mitochondria work harder, thus promoting good health and longevity. Exercise should be the right amount just like medicines. Excessive exercising puts you at high risk of diseases and early death as well.

Listen to your body

After exercise, if you feel very exhausted and sleepy, or if you fall sick easily, then these are signs that you are overdoing it. Athletes have toned their bodies in a particular manner in order to have an intense exercise regimen. But for common people, moderate exercise, along with short bursts of intense exercise, is beneficial. Exercise should be for one’s benefit and, hence, doing it in the right dose is essential, or else it can be harmful.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel