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Marathon Running Might Shorten Lifespan, Study Claims

Update Date: Apr 02, 2014 10:12 AM EDT

Exercise has been tied to reducing obesity and risks of heart complications. Even though exercising frequently is vital to one's overall health, there is such a thing as too much exercise. According to a new study, marathon running over an extended period of time can actually be detrimental to one's health. The researchers reported that running long distances for years could end up shortening one's lifespan.

"Years of extreme exercise efforts appear to erase some benefits you get from moderate exercise, so that your risk of heart disease, of dying of coronary disease, is the same as a sedentary person," said James O'Keefe, preventive cardiologist at St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, MO, reported by the Miami Herald.

In the report, O'Keefe who worked with Robert Schwartz and colleagues found that marathoners who ran for more than 25 years had 62 percent more plaque buildup in their heart arteries when compared to men who led sedentary lifestyles. The runners had ran at least one 26.2 mille race per year. The two groups of men shared similar aspects with an average age in the 50s from both groups.

The team found that the increased plaque buildup included both hard and soft, fatty plaque, which is associated with heart attack risk. The authors concluded, like many others things in life that achieving a balance is important. Too much running and no running at all are both detrimental for heart health. The researchers added that these findings should not discourage people from running in general. In addition, O'Keefe stated that if running a marathon is on people's bucket lists, they should run the marathon without the fear of hurting their heart. The team reiterated that the study found the link in people who have been running long distances for a long time. The researchers calculated that running three-miles was the safest bet.

The paper was published in the Missouri Medicine, the journal of the Missouri State Medical Association

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