When it comes to exercise, people often consider it redundant to ask the question, “how much is too much?”, simply assuming its effects to be entirely beneficial.
A new study published in the Journal of the American College Cardiology reveals that exercise, like all good things comes in moderation. The researchers point out that vigorous running, faster than 11 kmph, more than 2.4 hours a week, is just as harmful as a sedentary lifestyle. While the study does not clearly identify the mechanism of how intense exercise affects people, researchers did note that vigorous exercise put intense stress on the cardiovascular system.
Researchers looked at 5,048 people in the Copenhagen City Heart study, a longitudinal study that has been the basis for many reports on cardiovascular health. They analyzed data that had been collected over 12 years on 1098 healthy joggers and 413 healthy/sedentary non-joggers. The joggers in the study were younger, had lower blood pressure and lower body mass index combined with lower prevalence of smoking. The study identified that 2.4 hours a week at a slow or average pace with no more than three running days in a week was optimal for a high survival rate.
The co-author of the study, James O’Keefe stated, “2.4 hours of exercise is ridiculous if you’re trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. But if you’re trying to live to the age of 90 and still have a good heart and good health, that’s probably an ideal amount of exercise.”
However, compared with sedentary non-joggers, runners who moved at a slow pace were associated with a 49% lower risk. Further for those who ran 1 hour to 2.4 hours a week, the risk of dying was 71% lower than those who didn’t exercise. The small number of people in the study who were deceased especially amongst the vigorous runners is one of the limitations of the study. Academics also noted that the study should not be used out of context to indicate that exercise is not necessary in a time when obesity and diabetes are prevalent.
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