In conjunction with World Heart Day, I thought I’d write an article that answers the heart-burning question ‘is running good for your heart?’
The big myth that many people often hear is that ‘running will give you a heart attack’. The truth is that any form of exercise that increases your heart rate temporarily raises the odds of a heart attack during the workout. However, consistent exercise strengthens the heart and therefore has a net benefit of reducing the risk of heart related issues.
Some fear that running a marathon can cause heart damage. To date, there is no evidence that marathon running causes long term negative effects or leads to heart related issues. In fact, the human body is extremely adaptive – with consistent running and training, you will find that most people experience a lower resting heart rate. This basically translates to your heart being stronger, needing to pump less times a minute to ensure adequate blood flow to the rest of your body.
I found an interesting conversation on the Runner’s World forum regarding this topic and I’ll leave you with two quotes from people who contributed to the topic:
From the logical skeptic, WCR:
Historically, 100% of runners have died, or will die. So if you get serious about running, know this: you will eventually die.
From a man who has experienced the benefits of running. Sirdizzy:
Running is great for your heart, the absolute best thing you can do for it ever. I will use myself as a test subject, before I started running my resting heart rate was high 80′s low 90′s. After running and two years of exercise my resting heart rate is high 40′s low 50′s (I have an althetic heart rate now). So that means my heart has to beat 50 times less a minute or 23 million less times a year. Can you imagine the stress you take off your heart by making it beat 23 million times less a year. Granted according to dailymile I worked out for 8 hours and 8 minutes last week and my heart rate would have been significantly higher during that time but the stress I have taken off my heart over a year is unbelievable.
WCR is absolutely right but I’m sure if you’ve visited this site on purpose, you’re not one to lead a sedentary lifestyle – you want to grab life by the horns and ride it for all it’s worth.
Note that running in itself isn’t an all-in-one activity to create longevity. Other factors such as diet, nutrition, environment and rest play key factors to the entire equation. Runners do suffer from strokes and heart attacks as well. So is running good for your heart? Overall, studies have shown that the benefits of running far outweigh the hear related risks associated to it – it really boils down to you making the right decision for yourself.
If you’re unsure or have a history of heart related issues, it’s best to consult a specialist. As with anything you begin with, start slow to moderate and build momentum over time in order to create a sustainable workout regime. Anything worth doing is worth doing correctly, not rushed.
For more localized information about the heart, visit malaysianheart.org