Although most people do not get enough exercise, new research states there may be a group that gets too much. Namely, long distance athletes. This seems counter-intuitive. How could doing something that is good for you be bad for you? Yet we’ve all heard the adage “too much of a good thing.” In regards to long lasting (i.e.: one hour or more) endurance training, evidence is emerging to show the negative impact of ultra-endurance training on the heart muscle and body.
Perhaps the most stunning example was a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2011. Researchers examined a group of older men who had completed at least 100 marathons in their lifetime. Those who had trained the most had scar tissue build up in the heart muscle. Suggesting that the heart had been pushed too far, too often. **One thing to keep in mind is that it is still not known for sure if a build up of scar tissue in the heart outweighs the other benefits of ultra-endurance. Time will tell. This article is simply food for thought.
Training as an endurance athlete may very well be “too much of a good thing.” Occasional long-lasting cardio workouts are fine, but the grueling training involved in triathlons, marathons and other ultra-endurance events might be over doing it.
Other negative effects of over-training your endurance capacity is a decrease in immune function, insomnia and build up of scar tissue throughout the body.
Short duration, high intensity workouts are emerging as the preferred — and healthier — method of achieving optimal fitness. Resistance training, sprints and other high intensity exercises allow individuals the ability to change their metabolism and fitness levels with no apparent side effects. Cross fit-type workouts – if performed with good technique to protect the body – are an example of exercise that lasts relatively short durations (typically around 20 minutes or less) but are high intensity and can radically transform physiques for the better.
Rest assured, there are many options for you if too much intensity is not feasible for you.
If you are a long distance runner, swimmer or cyclist, you may want to vary your training to avoid the pitfalls that may await you if you over do the time in training.