Is Too Much Running Bad for Your Heart?
The benefits of exercise, including running, are well documented. Regular, moderate physical activity improves overall health and decreases mortality risk. But when it comes to heart health, is there an upper limit to how much exercise is good for you?
The heart is a muscle, strengthened with exercise. In fact, long-distance runners may have hearts that are 50 percent bigger than normal. Some studies show that excessive running can thicken heart tissue, possibly leading to an irregular heart rate, and can cause an increase in plaque build-up in the arteries.
But comprehensive studies about the effects—good and bad—of long-term, vigorous exercise are difficult. There often are too many variables, including genetic factors, diet, lifestyle factors, and others, to get direct comparisons. Talk to your health care provider before beginning an exercise program. It's important for serious runners to consult a sports physician and pay attention to his or her body.
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