Running: Bad for Your Heart?

by Sarah Jio, Glamour

Lovelies, you know I'm a bigtime runner. I loooooooove it like no other. Just me, my iPod and my tennis shoes pounding the pavement--aaaahhhhh. As a runner, I've never been fitter, stronger and slimmer, and I owe my surge in creativity to running also (hello, five novels, which were all plotted out on daily jogs!).

But, in the back of my mind, I will admit to wondering if all the pavement-pounding is good for my health, especially after this slightly scary incident after running a 10K recently.

That's why I was especially interested to read a report published in the British journal Heart alleging that intense running over time may be bad for the heart.

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From NBC: "[The author of the report] points to studies that show subtle signs of heart damage in marathon runners tested right after their races have been run. And backing that up, he says, is data from the "Iron Mouse" study that found scarring in the hearts of mice forced to run long distances every day for four months. The good news is that the mice seemed to improve after they stopped running and were allowed to return to normal rodent life."

But, the expert goes on to say that he's "worried that distance runners who keep at it year after year after year don't ever give their hearts a chance to heal. ... The heart pumps about 5 quarts per minute when we're sitting. When we're running it goes up to 25 to 30 quarts. The heart wasn't meant to do that for hours, day in and day out. You end up overstretching the heart and tearing muscle fibers. Up to 30 percent of those who finish marathons have elevated troponin levels, which is a marker for heart damage. That's the marker we look for to see if someone's having a heart attack--it's irrefutable evidence of heart damage."

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No, this is not the final word on the topic, so don't fret running fans. But, it's wise to consider the whole picture when it comes to your health, so you bet I'll be keeping an eye on the research to see how this shakes out in future years (especially for someone like me who comes from a family with a history of major heart problems). And for now, I'm not that gung-ho about training for a marathon. Maybe just a half. :)

What do you think?

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