by The Welthi Bureau | 15th Feb, 2019
With fitness escalating to a phobia in some cases, loved ones of ‘over enthusiastic’ endurance athletes and other ‘over-exercisers’, have been expressing their concern about the effects of too much exercise on the heart.
How much is good and how little is bad, is a question that only a qualified Cardiologist can answer. That’s why we talked to Dr. Ramesh Gudapati, Senior Cardiologist of Star Hospitals, Hyderabad, for his expert opinion on this subject.
As a Cardiologist, what do you feel is the required amount of exercise to keep a person healthy?
“I recommend a minimum of 30 minutes per day and 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise like brisk walking. This is a must. People can opt to exercise more, but it all depends on their age group, fitness levels and state of health. Whatever exercise you are undertaking – whether you are walking, jogging or running, you need to be able to carry on a normal conversation while doing so. If you are so breathless that you can’t complete a sentence, or the words are unable to come out because you are panting so hard, it means the exercise level is too much for you.”
A recent study published in a leading medical journal showed that middle aged men who worked out often and very vigorously, tend to develop plaques in their cardiac arteries. Despite this, however, they were also declared less likely to die prematurely from a heart attack, than more sedentary people of their age group. What is your opinion?
“Very strenuous exercise can be very harmful, and detrimental to the heart. In marathon runners, for example, who run for prolonged periods of time and pursue this relentless routine regularly, we have observed thickening of the heart muscle and scarring of the heart muscle also. There are other risks as well, like Sudden Cardiac Death and Arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.
There is no question that our hearts benefit from exercise. Lack of exercise is the single most devastating factor contributing to heart disease. In fact, every study undertaken on the subject reveals that people who exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, reduce their risk of developing heart disease. However, chronic, strenuous exercise in the long term, can cause heart problems like Ventricular Tachycardia or Atrial Fibrillation.
You may have heard of an athlete, marathon runner or even someone in the police force, suddenly falling down dead after a bout of strenuous exercise. This could be due to an underlying case of Cardiomyopathy which has been undiagnosed. It might also be that their rigorous routine of strenuous exercise has resulted in Coronary Artery Disease, and a single bout of vigorous exercise has precipitated a heart attack. ”
Is there any way of preventing such an event?
“Marathon runners should undergo a Cardiac Checkup before embarking on this very vigorous form of exercise, to assess how much exercise their body can take, and if their heart is able to withstand the strain.”
What would you categorise as over exercising?
“Regarding the subject of over exercising per se, it depends on a variety of factors, like the person’s age, physical condition, etc. For instance, what is considered over exercising for a 60-70 year old, might be moderate exercise for a 20 year old. It helps to follow this guideline – if you are running more than two hours at a stretch, and burning more than 6,500 calories per week, then you are over exercising and this is definitely not good for you and could potentially affect your heart adversely.”
When is exercise bad for you?
“Exercise is always good. You can exercise more than 30 minutes each day, but know your limit. However, don’t let exercise become an addiction.”
Does over exercising have any negative impact apart from affecting the heart?
“You may be surprised to hear that very vigorous exercise may make you very fatigued, and have a negative psychological impact, leading to depression and the inability to do anything else. Very intense exercise or over exercising, also leads to bone and muscle injuries as well. So over exercising can affect you both psychologically and physically.”
As in everything to do with our day to day lives – would you say moderation is the key element in terms of exercise?
“Yes. But if you want to pursue some vigorous exercise nevertheless, please do get a Cardiac Check first. This is vitally important for your wellbeing and safety.”
For Appointment: Dr. Ramesh Gudapati, Senior Cardiologist of Star Hospitals, Hyderabad.
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