Healthy Heart and ExerciseExercise is extremely important to a healthy heart, but you don’t have to perform an excessive amount of exercise every day in order to reap the benefits of a fitness routine. In fact, recent studies have shown that exercising too much may actually be bad for the heart.

Researchers looked at marathon runners and other endurance athletes who push their bodies to the limit.  Of the 100 participants in the study, 12% had signs of heart arrhythmias (scarring). That rate is three times higher than the rate of runners who do not partake in marathons. Another study has shown that extreme sports can lead to a buildup of calcium within an artery’s wall which can narrow the arteries, potentially causing heart problems.
Doctors are quick to note that being an extreme endurance athlete is certainly much healthier than not exercising at all, though exercising at intense levels for such a long period of time is far from necessary and can in fact be detrimental. Aside from heart problems, endurance athletes also risk chronic sports injuries that can have a detrimental effect upon quality of life.

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that people engage in 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.  The organization also suggests that people only partake in 75 minutes of vigorous exercise on a weekly basis to stay fit and healthy.  Experts say that exercising significantly more than this amount will not necessarily increase the health benefits that you’ll see.

Best Exercises for a Healthy Heart

So which exercises are best for your heart? A study published in Health and Age examined over 44,000 men in order to determine what types of exercise are most beneficial. The study found that compared to men who exercised very little or not at all, men who walked briskly for at least 30 minutes every day were about 20% less likely to develop heart disease. Men who lifted weights were about 25% less likely. The greatest benefit was seen in runners who jogged at least an hour each week. These men experienced a risk reduction of 40%.

Talk to your doctor to establish a health routine that is ideally suited to your heart needs and overall well-being. Whether your favorite fitness routine includes intramural sports or walking your dog around the neighborhood, a moderate amount of exercise can greatly improve your heart health.