Heed the warnings:
‘Don’t overdo it.’
’Training for a marathon is bad for your health.’
‘Over training is as dangerous as being inactive!’
Warnings to the public that too much exercise might be as bad for your health as being a sloth have been backed up by science in recent years—science that suggests that doing too much cardiovascular exercise as a marathon runner might be as damaging to your heart as not doing enough.
A couple things to note about these warnings:
- Most of the research that claims too much cardiovascular exercise is as detrimental as none at all has been based on short-term health outcomes and has relied considerably on self-reported data, meaning it’s not always incredibly reliable or accurate.
- While overtraining might be a real thing at the highest level of sport, let’s be honest, most people—I’d argue as much as 90 percent of the population—probably isn’t doing enough physical activity and would never come close to falling into the overtraining category no matter how hard they tried.
And now, a new study published this month in the highly-esteemed JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2707428 ) says there might be no such thing as too much exercise, after all!
The study also suggests that, even when you consider the type of training regimes you see elite athletes pursuing, the presence of cardiovascular fitness is always linked to living longer.
Unlike previous research, the authors of this new JAMA study looked at long-term data from the Cleveland Clinic. They assessed more than 120,000 people with an average age of 53 years, all of whom had done a treadmill test sometime between the years 1994 and 2014. From there, the research team tracked medical records and social security numbers to discover if and when those 120,000 people were still alive.
The result: 13,500 of the 120,000 people had died before the end of 2017, and there was a hugely significant link between how fit the person showed to be on their treadmill test and whether he/she was still alive today.
The researchers also discovered there was no apparent “upper level limit of fitness” that, once reached, suddenly backfires on you and sends you to the grave early. Instead, it found the more elite athletes in the group did seem to live longer, on average, than everyone else. Specifically, elite level fitness was associated with an 80-percent reduced risk of early death.
While our goal at Forge Valley Fitness isn’t necessarily to get your to a place where you obtain elite level fitness, our main mission is to help you become more and more fit—not just cardiovascularly fit, but also mobile, strong and powerful—even as you age. Our end goal is to help you live a long, healthy, independent life so you can avoid the old age home or assisted living even at the ripe age of 90. Sound good? I think so.