Study: white men who exercise too much at risk of heart problems

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - White men may be at an increased risk for heart problems if they exercise more than the recommended amount, according to a new study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

The study followed 3,200 people over a 25-year period, checking in on them at least three times. Those that said they exercised more than 8 hours per week, which is three times the recommended amount, were at a 26 percent greater risk of developing coronary artery calcification, or CAC, which is a risk factor for heart problems.

White men who exercised more than 8 hours per week had a much higher risk of developing CAC, with a whopping 87 percent greater risk than those who exercised the least amount.

“I think it's important to keep in mind that this is a risk for a risk,” Cox Health sports medicine specialist Dr. Shannon Woods said. “If you exercise, the chances of you dying during the year goes down versus someone who does not, as long as you're over the age of 35.”

Dr. Woods says these results are interesting more for the questions it raises than the answers it provides.

“We don't know what too much exercise is,” he said. “This research has brought it to the forefront that there could be too much exercise because before that wasn't even a thought that was ever conceived of. Right now I think it's still too early on what is too much”

Right now, experts recommend 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (intense, sprint type movements) per week, or 2.5 hours of moderate exercise (anything that makes you sweat) per week. Going on walks doesn’t count towards those totals.

Over-exercising, even if there’s no medical consensus definition yet, does happen. Noah Alldredge, who owns Big Time Results in Springfield, says listening to your body is the key.

“When I think of over-exercising I think of when your muscles are not recovering,” Alldredge said. “A lot of times people don't realize the recovery process is when your muscles are growing and getting stronger.”

This study isn’t a reason not to exercise at all. But it might be a good time to make sure you aren’t pushing it too hard.

“If it's impacting your performance the next time you work out, more than likely you're over-training,” Alldredge said. “A lot of times I see it specifically with ligaments or tendons. Those are much smaller than muscles and be at more risk for injury when you're overtraining.”