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Health scare of the week: Overdosing on exercise

Many people wrongly assume that “if moderate exercise is good, then more is better.”

Training for a marathon and other extreme workouts may be more harmful than healthy, DiscoveryNews.com reports. After reviewing over 50 studies, researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that more than an hour of intense aerobic activity per day put runners and cyclists at heightened risk of serious heart problems—including an irregular heartbeat, clogged arteries, and scarring. Habitual marathon runners and professional cyclists, they noted, were five times more likely to have irregular heartbeats than their less-active peers. Many people wrongly assume that “if moderate exercise is good, then more is better,” says study author James H. O’Keefe. But beyond an hour, “you reach a point of diminishing returns.” The finding supports recent research that shows that runners who log more than 20 miles per week or run faster than 7 miles per hour have a higher risk of premature death than those who jog less than 20 miles a week. Exercising is still “one of the most important things you need to do on a daily basis” to stay healthy, O’Keefe says, but “it helps to be a little less intense about it.”

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