Looking to get in shape? There are few physical exercises that burn as many calories as running. But a new study shows that running too much can actually damage the heart and shorten one’s lifespan.
That’s the finding of Dr. Martin Matsumura, who serves as co-director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Matsumura’s study found that people who did not run at all (and rarely got any physical exercise) typically lived as long as people who ran frequently for many miles. In both cases lifespans were shorter than those of moderate runners.
Unfortunately, no one knows for certain why long-distance runners have shorter lifespans. Dr. James O’Keefe, director of preventive cardiology at the Kansas City-based Mid-American Heart Institute, says it could simply be a matter of “wear and tear”. O’Keefe went on to say that chronic extreme exercise may actually induce a “remodeling” of the heart which could undermine the benefits of physical exercise.
In other words, people who frequently run long distances are not giving their hearts enough time to recover and over time this damages the critical organ.
Matsumura, who recently presented his findings at the Ameican College of Cardiology’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., hopes his study will lead to new research examining the impact of over-exercising. The challenge will be to find out how much exercise is too much, and how much isn’t enough to maintain a healthy body weight.
But one thing appears clear: the “more is better” exercise mantra is on its death bed.