It seems that the crazier a headline sounds, the more likely people are to click on it. Even though I knew a recent story couldn’t possibly be what it seemed, I had to check it out for myself. “Exercise Could Hurt Heart Health”, “Exercise May Be Bad for Some” and “Is Exercise Bad for You? A New Study Says Yes!” were just some of the titles about a recent study that caught my attention. Could everything I’ve learned through school, work experience, professional certifications and personal experience really be wrong? After review, I don’t think there is cause for alarm just yet.
A recent survey of six exercise studies (involving 1,687 adults) was published in the journal PLoS One. These studies measured blood pressure, fasting insulin, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol, all of which are markers for heart disease. Eight to 10 percent of study participants who exercised regularly had some negative affect on one of these four markers. They aren’t sure why, but researchers suspect physical activity as the cause. One of the researchers noted that “even if someone had an adverse response in one of the parameters, they could take medicine to correct it and continue exercising. For example, if somebody exercises to bring his or her cholesterol level down but it increases blood pressure, then he or she would take blood pressure medicine and maintain their exercise.”
Although a small percentage had negative outcomes, an equal number were considered to be “super responders”, meaning exercise produced better than anticipated results. Participant’s activity levels varied from moderate to vigorous. Researchers hope further studies will help physicians predict the effect exercise will have on patients, so that they can tailor physical activity recommendations to each individual.
The survey’s authors say that further investigation is needed to determine the biological reason for any negative effects of a regular exercise program. They are also quick to mention that the benefits of regular physical activity still far outweigh any risks for the majority of the population. So it looks like your doctor isn’t going to recommend you become a couch potato anytime soon.
Find out more about how Small Bits of Fitness Add Up and the Heart-Healthy Benefits of Exercise.
What do you think? Do sensational headlines like this cause confusion and/or panic more than anything else? Or could there be something to them?