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Aerobic Exercise- Too much can be bad for your health

Is your aerobic exercise level right for you?


Every one of us knows someone who lives life “to the max” and doesn’t do anything in moderation. Now experts suggest that while a little aerobic exercise may be great, too much can trigger heart irregularities and cause permanent heart damage.

According to reports released last summer, studies suggest that one hour per day of aerobic exercise provides the maximum health benefit for athletes. This is great news for those of us who struggle to make it to the gym a couple of days a week, but what does this mean for extreme exercisers?



Research indicates that athletes who participate in competitions such as marathons, iron man distance triathlons, and very long distance bicycle races may be causing “structural changes to their heart and large arteries, leading to lasting injury.”

According to a review published in the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, athletes who exercise too long for too many years have evidence of not only repetitive injury but also “development of patchy scarring of certain areas of the heart, and abnormal heart rhythms.” The study also showed that it is not unusual for top athletes to have abnormal electrocardiogram readings and a five-fold increase in atrial fibrillation or abnormal heart rhythms.

The idea that extreme aerobic exercise can be dangerous to your health may be difficult for many to accept, however, it’s not unusual for most things to be good only in moderation. For instance, eating food is good, too much is unhealthy. Drinking water is great; drinking too much can kill you.

The same is true for exercise. Medical experts agree that moderate exercise is crucial to prevent many diseases such as heart failure, obesity, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure. Aerobic exercise also releases natural endorphins which can combat mental health disorders such as depression.

It is worth noting as well that extreme athletes, although they may suffer some ill effects from their activities, will still have a lower death and disability rate than individuals who do not do any exercise. This is especially true if the non-exercisers have an unhealthy diet and are obese.

Obviously, the researchers of this study are in no way suggesting that it is better to be sedentary than active. Physical activity is one of the most important things that you can do to improve your health. Exercise is good for you. There is no argument about that from any medical doctor.

What researchers do hope to convey to athletes is that once you have exercised approximately one hour per day you may begin to experience diminishing returns. Medical doctors also suggest that activity does not have to be extreme to be beneficial. Moderate activity is health and is defined as a level that raises the heart rate to at least 120 beats per minute or higher. Healthy, moderate activities can include walking quickly, swimming, biking, jogging, gardening and weight-lifting.

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