Too Much Exercise Can Be Hard on Men's Hearts
White men who exercise at higher than average levels are far more likely to experience a buildup of plaque in the heart arteries by middle age than those who exercise at low levels, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Kaiser Permanente. In the study, more than 3,100 African-American and white men and women self-reported their physical activity levels over a 25-year span, from 1985 through 2011. One group was defined as exercising below the national guidelines (less than 150 minutes a week); one met the national guidelines; and the third logged more than 450 minutes of exercise each week - three times higher than the national guidelines.
By middle age, participants in group three were 27 percent more likely to have developed coronary artery calcification than the participants who exercised below the national guidelines. Furthermore, when researchers broke out the findings by race and gender, they found that white men were 86 percent more likely to have calcifications.
"Because the study results show a significantly different level of risk between black and white participants based on long-term exercise trajectories, the data provides rationale for further investigation, especially by race, into the other biological mechanisms for CAC risk in people with very high levels of physical activity." stated Deepika Laddu, PhD, assistant professor of physical therapy in the UIC College of Applied Health Sciences.
Laddu also noted that, while the results of the study might be unexpected, "it does not suggest that anyone should stop exercising." Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.