How much sport is healthy for the heart?
There is no doubt about the fact that regular exercise is good for your health. Numerous studies prove the positive effects that moderate exercise has on health and can have on the body's self-healing powers. The effects range across all parts of the body, from purely physical effects to mental and spiritual effects. Anyone who does sport themselves will be able to confirm how a casual run or swim session after a long day at the office revives the senses and relieves ailments such as tension or back pain. Mentally, too, sport helps to solve problems that occupy you through the working day and provide some relaxation for the soul.
It is generally believed that 30 to 45 minutes of exercise three to four times a week can reduce numerous disease risks such as heart disease, diabetes, circulatory disease, Alzheimer's disease or depression. The question that arises is rather at what point the signs reverse, i.e. the negative effects of sport outweigh the positive ones. Because that is also what sport can do, especially if it is practised extensively and exceeds a "normally healthy" level. So at what point is sport rather unhealthy, i.e. does it weaken rather than strengthen the heart?
Researchers have investigated the question of what effects too much sport has on one's own heart health in various studies. And they often come to the same conclusion: extreme sports like marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons or extensive swimming can more often lead to coronary heart disease. For example, the CARDIA study, which followed young men and women in major US cities for years, showed that coronary calcification was found much more frequently in participants who were more active than average than in those who were less active or not active at all. In particular, the study participants who did particularly intensive sport were 85 percent more likely to have coronary calcification.
In addition, studies show that particularly intensive sporting activity in the extreme range can also lead to an increased rate of heart attacks. And the risk of atrial fibrillation also seems to be increased in extreme athletes. Another study by the Karolinska University Hospital on 44,410 subjects shows that of those who exercised for more than five hours a week, the risk of atrial fibrillation was increased.
All of the above points taken together suggest that extensive exercise can even permanently damage one's own heart. Many experts consider extensive exercise to be more than 150 minutes per week. In the long term, this can even lead to so-called "exercise-induced cardiac fatigue", the clinical picture of chronic exhaustion of the heart muscle triggered by too much exercise.
In summary, it can be said that sport is like many other things in life: the secret lies in the right dose. So if you do moderate sport (30-45 minutes) two to three times a week, as recommended by many doctors, you will promote your heart health and at the same time do something good for your own musculoskeletal system and cardiovascular system.
The main problem continues to be people who do no sport at all and thus hardly move at all. Coupled with an unhealthy diet, the risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity is very high.
So not exercising at all can be just as unhealthy as exercising too much!