Heart Conditions

Can Intense Exercises Lead To A Heart Attack?

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 12 September 2022, Updated on - 08 February 2024

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It is a well-known fact that exercising is good for our health. Regular exercising helps improve our mood, boost energy levels, and protect us from chronic health conditions. But what happens when we take our love for exercise a little too far? Is too much exercise harmful to health?

What Does The Research Say?

A new study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests that excessive exercise may lead to heart damage and even early death. They further added that rigorous exercising could be the reason for sudden heart attacks. The study included more than 1,000 healthy individuals between the ages of 18 and 30 for an average of 15 years. Each participant started exercising an average of three times a week at a moderate intensity level. But as time passed, some people began exercising more frequently or intensely, while others cut back on their workouts.

The researchers found that those who became "extreme exercisers" (working out intensely seven times a week or more) had a threefold higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation, a heart condition characterised by rapid and irregular heartbeats. They also had a four times higher risk of dying from any cause than those who stuck to moderate activity levels.

Furthermore, people who increased their activity level over time had a greater risk of developing atrial fibrillation than those whose activity level stayed the same.

These findings suggest that there may be a point at which exercise stops being beneficial and starts becoming harmful. So how much is too much?

How Much Exercise Is Too Much?

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as brisk walking every week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity such as jogging or running along with two or more strength-training sessions for a healthy heart. However, people must not push themselves to the level of exhaustion. 


Signs You're Exercising Too Much 

If you think you may be exercising too much and could be at risk for heart attack, here are some symptoms to look out for:

- You're always tired: If you're finding that you're constantly exhausted, even after a good night's sleep, it may be a sign that you're overdoing your exercise routine.

- You're getting sick more often: If you fall ill more often than usual, this may be a sign that you need to take a break from your workout routine. This is especially true if you are a woman and experiencing common heart attack symptoms, including shortness of breath, chest pain, and nausea. 

- You do not see results: If you're working out regularly but not seeing any results, it may be a sign that you're doing too much. This is usually the biggest and early sign of heart attack symptoms in men. Our bodies need time to recover after a workout, and if we don't give them that time, we can burn fewer calories in the long run.

- You have injuries: Exercise is good for our bones and muscles, but if we overdo it, we can end up with injuries. If you have aches or pains that are getting worse instead of better, it's a good idea to see a doctor.


How To Prevent Heart Attack and Stay Safe? 

If you're worried about exercising too much, there are a few things you can do to stay safe:

- Talk to your doctor: Before starting any new exercise routine, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor. They can help you create a plan that's right for you.

- Start slow: It's important to ease into any new exercise routine. If you try to do too much too soon, you're more likely to get injured or become overwhelmed.

- Listen to your body: It's essential to listen to your body when exercising. If you start to feel pain, dizziness, or nausea, stop what you're doing and rest.

- Make sure you're staying hydrated: Dehydration can make it harder for our bodies to recover from exercise. Ensure you drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your workout.

- Eat a healthy diet: While a balanced diet is vital for everyone, it becomes crucial for those exercising regularly. Ensure you're getting enough protein and carbohydrates to help your body recover from your workouts.

diet and exercise

Exercise is beneficial for our health. However, if you have a heart condition or other health problem, you may need to be more careful. Moreover, if you're concerned about overdoing it, speak with your doctor. They can assist you in developing a safe and effective workout routine and learn about heart attack treatment and symptoms. Always pay attention to your body – stop and rest if you feel pain or nausea.

Need more guidance?

Consult n Apollo Expert


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

Heart Conditions

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