Can You Exercise Yourself to Death? Here's What You Need to Know

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When new research came out earlier this month that declared you can exercise yourself to death, the fitness community was shocked.
The research, which comes from Mayo Clinic Proceedings, reported that people who work out for 7.5 hours a week — or three times more than the recommended physical activity guidelines — are more likely to develop heart disease and contribute to an earlier death.
But before you go ahead and cancel all your upcoming classes and toss your kettlebells, here’s what you need to know.
The study tracked the exercise habits of 3175 participants over 25 years. Surprisingly, it found that those who exercise more than 7.5 hours per week had a 27% higher risk of developing coronary artery calcification (a buildup of calcium plaque in the heart’s arteries) by middle age, compared to those who either met or failed to reach the recommended weekly workout time of 150 minutes. Interestingly, white men who exceeded the physical activity recommendations were much more likely to develop the condition.
It’s important to note however that the study was conducted over a 25-year period. And while it could be taken as permission to skip your AM sweat session, exercise is generally good—not bad—for the heart and instead of going overboard, most of us aren’t getting enough.


“This [study] doesn’t apply to 99% of people,” Dr Deepak Bhatt, executive director of interventional cardiovascular services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, tells Time. “Most people are not getting into this range of exercise. The problem in the U.S. is the exact opposite, that most people are getting nowhere near the recommended amount of exercise.”
Multiple other doctors, physical therapists, and cardiologists have come forward after the study to suggest that while this extreme amount of exercise has been shown to bring damage to the heart, the average person would drastically have to overdo it to see any lasting, permanent, or fatal results.
The researchers themselves even admitted that the certain type of buildup in the artery may not be life-threatening.
“However, this plaque buildup may well be of the more stable kind and thus, less likely to rupture and cause heart attack, which was not evaluated in this study,” says the study co-author, Dr Jamal Rana. “It does not suggest that anyone should stop exercising.”
Still, like with nutrition and overall health, moderation is suggested. Exercising the amount you require to stay healthy, to maintain your desired body weight and to improve your mental health, is ideal. Don’t push yourself to unattainable limits but don’t let this study force you to hit the couch permanently either.
Exercise, whether it’s low- or high-impact, is important and has advantages you’ll see in the near future and long-term. And if you think you may be overdoing it, here are four signs you’re exercising too much. 

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