Usually we think of robust health when we think of endurance sports. After all, popular wisdom says that endurance athletes have the kinds of bodies most people can only dream of.
But a recent study suggests that too much intense exercise can actually put you at risk for a-fib.
But recent medical evidence suggests that long-term aerobic activity does indeed cause problems with heart function in some people. Avid cross-country skiers seem especially vulnerable since those athletes use both arms and legs over long distances, keeping the heart rate elevated for hours on end, often over years of training and competing.
Of course, nobody is suggesting that you shouldn’t exercise. That’s just silly–we all need some level of exercise to stay healthy and strong. The problem arises when people start overdoing it.
This article really hits home for me, because for a solid 5 years or more I was an intense runner and weight lifter. My atrial fibrillation started just a few years after I stopped working out so intensely.
And I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve seen or read, either in articles or various a-fib forums, that start with a description of how intensely a fellow patient was exercising before their first episode and subsequent diagnosis.
There is also some speculation that it has more to do with the type of personality (Type A) that is more likely to take on extreme endurance sports. After all, Type As are also linked to stress, which is in turn linked to a-fib.
All of this makes me wonder if I maybe brought this on myself. Perhaps moderation really is the key, and there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.