A massive, new 25-year study clearly found that more exercise increased calcification in the coronary arteries, a key predictor of cardiovascular disease risk.
You’ll be shocked to learn lessened exercise actually gets you out of trouble. And I’ll tell you all about it in a moment, but first, let’s back up a bit…
More isn’t always better when it comes to exercise
Just because a moderate amount of something is beneficial, doesn’t mean that excessive amounts are better…as the science clearly shows. This concept holds true whether we’re talking about exercise…or alcohol, medications, and supplements.
For one, excessive exercise harms your joints.
In fact, I recently reported on a study that found men and women in the modern, postindustrial age have twice the rate of osteoarthritis of the knee than people in the early industrial and prehistoric age.
This finding might leave you scratching your head, as it is generally considered that men and women in the early industrial and prehistoric era were more active and led more strenuous lives.
But think about it this way…
Today, more and more people with generally sedentary lifestyles get their exercise by running — episodically and excessively — on ill-prepared joints, repetitively pounding down on hard artificial surfaces.
I think it only makes sense that excessive running on artificial, man-made surfaces causes increased wear and tear on joints — a common-sense definition (and cause) of osteoarthritis.
(For a drug-free plan for easing and eliminating arthritis pain, check out my Arthritis Relief and Reversal Protocol. And make sure any joint support supplement you choose includes my ABCs of joint health — ashwaganda, boswellia and curcumin.)
Second, too much exercise can harm your GI tract. In fact, a recent review of eight studies discussed the new phenomenon of “exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome.”
The study authors said over-exercising shifts blood flow away from the GI system, starving it of oxygen and energy. This insufficient blood supply can cause cell death and inflammation, which damages the protective cell lining in the GI tract. Intestinal bacteria may also enter the bloodstream and travel to parts of the body where they don’t belong (essentially causing a blood infection).
Third, excess exercise harms the kidneys.
Despite all this mounting evidence, diehards still hold onto the idea that more exercise must — at least — help protect the heart.
But does it?
Fitness fanatics have more plaque
For the new study, researchers regularly recorded the activity levels of 3,175 young men and women over a 25-year-period.
Over the course of the study, they measured the amount of coronary artery calcification (CAC), or plaque buildup, in the arteries that supply the heart muscle.
(Cardiovascular disease begins with the build-up and calcification of plaque in the artery walls. Then, this calcified plaque begins to obstruct the coronary arteries that supply the heart. Eventually, the blockage can lead to heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular occlusion.)
Researchers categorized the participants into three groups:
-those exercised less than 2.5 hours per week (below the national guidelines)
-those who exercised 2.5 hours per week (meeting the national guidelines)
-those who exercised 7.5 hours or more per week (three times above the national guidelines)
Overall, those who worked out more than 7.5 hours per week had a 27 percent higher risk of developing CAC by middle age than the low-exercise group.
And white males fared even worse.
White men who exercised 7.5 hours or more each week had a whopping 86 percent higher rate of coronary artery heart disease than the low-exercise group.
So, rather than help, exercising at three times above the national guidelines clearly harmed the men observed in this study.
Researchers discount their own findings
Researchers noted they initially expected to find that the heavy exercisers would have the lowest amount of arterial calcification. And they said they were surprised by their own findings.
Then, they even tried to explain away their results.
They said they weren’t sure “how dangerous” the coronary artery calcification was in the excessive exercise group, since they didn’t measure heart attacks or longevity.
For more than 40 years, coronary artery calcification has been — in fact — considered “dangerous” everywhere else in medical research or practice. And it’s used as an excuse for doctors to perform even more dangerous surgeries and stent procedures.
In one interview, one of the study’s researchers admitted, “high levels of exercise over time may cause stress on the arteries, leading to higher coronary artery calcification.”
Well, of course having higher blood pressure — for longer periods of time, more frequently, while engaging in excessive exercising — causes more damage to arteries. You learn about that mechanism in “Heart Health 101.”
And doctors have been trying to manage and lower high blood pressure for a century, except apparently when it’s caused by too much exercise.
The researchers in this study went even further, attempting to make their own data disappear. They suggested that excessive exercise causes a different kind of coronary artery disease that is somehow “more stable,” and “thus less likely to rupture and cause heart attack, which was not evaluated in this study.”
Furthermore, even though their own study shows that white men who exercise at high levels have more coronary artery disease, they still say, “it does not suggest that anyone should stop exercising.”
No — you should not stop exercising. You should just stop exercising excessively, as I always recommend. How about some common sense and moderation?
This isn’t even the first study to show the harms that excessive exercise places on the heart.
Moderate how often you get your heart racing
Prior studies have shown that developing excess muscle mass (through weight-lifting, for example) places metabolic stress on your heart. And other studies have also found that years of excessive exercise can harm the electrical conduction system of the heart, leading to potentially fatal abnormal heartbeats.
One other study on the impact of exercise on the heart stands out in my mind…
As you may recall, I recently reported on a long-term study from the U.K. that found exercising 7.5 hours per week (the same amount in the “excessive” group in the U.S. study) had no longevity benefit over those who exercised just one or two hours per week.
Ironically, fitness gurus chastise these so-called “weekend warriors” who exercise just one to two hours a week. And, indeed, one to two hours a week falls “below” national guidelines.
Yet, these “weekend warriors” gain just as much benefit to longevity as the excessive exercisers.
So — it looks like we should throw yet another national guideline out the window.
If you want to learn more about natural methods to improve your heart health (without dangerous surgeries or heart medications) refer to my brand-new Heart Attack Prevention & Repair Protocol. You can learn more about it or enroll today by clicking here.
“25-Year Physical Activity Trajectories and Development of Subclinical Coronary Artery Disease as Measured by Coronary Artery Calcium: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study,” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, November 2017; 92(11): 1660–1670
“Systematic Review: Exercise-Induced Gastrointestinal Syndrome-Implications for Health and Intestinal Disease.” Aliment Pharmacology and Therapuetics. 46 (3), 246-265