The benefits of physical exercise have been well-documented and touted by everyone from doctors to fitness coaches. But there’s a risk in overdoing it, a new study suggests.
Specifically, researchers found that there is a link between working out too much and an increase in heart disease risks for white men, Tech Times reports. A team at the University of Illinois, Chicago found that white men who exercise three times more than the recommended guidelines, which is 150 minutes weekly, are more likely to have plaque accumulate in their hearts.
The researchers studied coronary artery calcification, or CAC, for 25 years in over 3,000 white and black men ages 18 to 30 years old from Birmingham in Alabama, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Oakland in California. CAC is the measurement of calcium and plaque present in the arteries, and can be detected through methods like a CT scan. The presence of plaque inside the heart indicates that the person is at risk of developing a heart disease.
The participants were grouped according to how many minutes they exercised per week. The first group worked out less than 150 minutes, the second group reached the number, and the third group exceeded the guidelines at around 450 minutes per week.
Deepika Laddu, assistant professor from the Applied Health Sciences department of UIC, said,
We expected to see that higher levels of physical activity over time would be associated with lower levels of CAC.
But the results were surprising. The third group of men were 27% more likely to suffer from CAC by the time they turned 43 to 55 years old, compared to those who did not exercise too much. In addition, the white men who exercised a lot turned out to be 86% more likely to have CAC compared to black men.
The study suggested that the intensive physical activity resulted in stress on the arteries, thus the higher risk of CAC.
However, people should not stop exercising, the study said, but stick to recommended levels. The best time to work out is at around 6:30 p.m., after hydrating and before going to bed.
The study was published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.