The Risks of Vigorous Exercise

Science now shows a link between extreme workouts and an irregular heartbeat.

As the cultural pendulum keeps swinging further in the direction of extreme activities, it is enlightening to see new research suggesting we may have gone too far! In a new study presented in the cardiovascular medical journal, Heart, researchers found a link between intense exercise and an increased risk of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat).1

In this study, the heart health and exercise habits of 44,410 men between the ages of 45 and 79 were evaluated over a 12 year period. They were specifically asked about their exercise history at ages 15, 30 and 50. Those who, at the age of 30, exercised intensely for more than 5 hours a week, were 19% more likely to have an irregular heartbeat at age 60 compared to those who exercised less than an hour a week at the age of 30.1

Those who exercised 5 hours a week or more at age 30, but exercised less than an hour a week by the age of 60, had a 49% increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation.1

The good news: the 60 year old men who had a history of moderately exercising by brisk walking or cycling for an hour a day or more had a 13% decreased risk of developing atrial fibrillation.1

This is just one of many studies suggesting that moderate exercise provides the maximal cardiovascular benefit, but with prolonged, intense exercise, these benefits are lost.1

See also The Science Behind Why Nose Breathing is Better

In This Article

Ayurvedic Exercise (Nose Breathing Exercise)

In my book, Body, Mind, and Sport, I presented our research, which compared nose breathing to mouth breathing during moderate-to-intense exercise, suggesting that nose breathing exercise is a more effective monitor of how much exercise is safe and how much more is harmful.2

In our comparison of nose and mouth breathing, we found that during nose breathing the brain wave pattern became more coherent, and that there was a significant increase of alpha, or meditative, calm brain waves. Mouth breathing reflected more beta or stressed brain waves, as well as brain wave incoherence.2

The sympathetic activity, or “fight or flight” response, was significantly higher during mouth breathing and the parasympathetic activity, or calming and repairing response, was significantly higher during nose breathing.2

Using nose breathing as a governor to maintain brain wave coherence, alpha brain activity, and increased parasympathetic activity during exercise may be a reliable monitor to ensure exercise benefits, rather than the increased risk that prolonged intense exercise presents.2

See also How to Bliss Out While You Workout

References

  1. http://heart.bmj.com/content/100/13/999.extract Heart doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2014-305780, Exercise and the heart: unmasking Mr HydeHeart
  2. Travis, Douillard, et al. http://informahealthcare.com/doi/abs/10.3109/00207459608986691

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