According to researchers, there are no indications that going to the limit of exercise will make you live longer or make your heart stronger, but when it is brought to the limit, it may have the potential to do harm.
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Washington DC: According to a recent study, even the most fit athletes of middle age can not avoid cardiovascular risk factors. A study by the University of British Columbia emphasizes how important it is for middle-aged athletes to have doctors check their cardiovascular risk factors, especially if they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels or a family history of cardiovascular disease.
"We all know that physical activity is good for us – it can help prevent a whole range of health problems and illnesses, from cancer to depression," said Barbara Morrison, lead author of the study. "But even if you are really active, our findings suggest that you still can not evade your risk factors."
For the study, researchers followed 798 "master athletes" – adults aged 35 and older who exercise moderate to vigorous physical activity at least three days a week. The participants include a series of athletes, from runners to cyclists, triathletes, rowers and hockey players.
Of the 798 athletes, 94 (11 percent) had a significant cardiovascular disease. Ten participants were found to have severe coronary heart disease (a blockage in their vein of 70 percent or more) despite having no symptoms.
Although the findings may seem disconcerting, Morrison stressed that this does not mean that master athletes have to stop training.
Instead, they advise people to consult their doctor for regular monitoring, including blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring, especially if they have a family history of heart attack or stroke.
"The good news is that cardiovascular disease can be treated," she said. "It has been proven that medication reduces the mortality risk, and even more so in people who are active."
Practicing moderation when it comes to physical exercise is also important, she added. "There is no evidence that by doing your very best you will live longer or your heart will become stronger, but when it is taken to the limit, it may have the potential to do harm," Morrison said.
"You should never push yourself so hard that you can not exercise the next day." The study is published in the journal BMJ Open.