Even a good thing can be be a bad thing if you overdo it. According to a new study, extreme exercise can actually be bad for your health. But don’t hang up your sneakers or skip a few gym sessions yet. The study also shows that you need to work out a lot for it to be bad for your health.
The study, which according to WSJ has not yet been published yet, but was conducted by British physicians analyzed around 170 competitive endurance athletes and compared them to 170 moderately sedentary subjects. Research found that those athletes who exercised but kept their running per week below 35 miles and biking per week less than 150 kilometers were shown to have lower levels of coronary artery calcium — no surprise there. However, the study also showed that the athletes who ran or biked beyond this limit had higher levels of coronary artery calcium than the control group had.
This shows that while exercise is great, over-exercise may in fact be even worse than sitting around.
“Chronic excessive strenuous exercise can exact a toll on the durability of the cardiovascular system, on how well the pump holds up through the decades,” James O’Keefe, a Kansas cardiologist, told WSJ. Despite this research, and other similar studies, there is still lack of clarity regarding the effects of extreme exercise.
Beyond the impact of over-exercising on the heart, there are also the underlying ideas of injuries and other adverse effects of exercise. According to a Danish study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the relationship between the amount of exercise and your health can be described by a U-shaped curve.
The curve compares the mortality rates of joggers and sedentary people, showing that those who did moderate exercise and jogging were less likely to die than sedentary people. However, once joggers became more intense to jogging 2½ to 3 hours a week at a faster pace, their mortality rate became similar to the sedentary people.
According to the study, “The U-shaped associated suggests higher doses of running are not only unnecessary but also may erode some of the remarkable longevity benefits conferred by lower doses of running.”
Many of the studies have a similar conclusions that running and exercise decreases your chances of cardio vascular mortality, up until a point. This point seems to occur once you start to running 30 miles or more, a week. Still, there is question around how much exercise is too much. Another study published in The Lancet, followed more than 400,000 people for eight years found that the more people exercises, the lower their mortality rate was; this did plateau when participants exercised about 100 minutes per day, but showed no decrease.
Basically, the key takeaway is to know your body, and know how much you can exercise per day without risking injury. Finding a happy medium between challenging yourself and harming yourself will allow you to get the most out of your workouts.
Also remembering to not put yourself through a workout until you have a baseline of fitness. So is too much of anything a bad thing? You be the judge.