Fitness is an important aspect of life. It keeps our bodies strong, our immune system up, and reduces stress. However, too much fitness might increase your risk for heart problems.

Fitness and Your Risk for Heart Problems

Using fitness to maintain a healthy heart may be more dangerous for those who are susceptible to cardiovascular disease.

One study found that those who rely solely on exercise to stay healthy are three times more likely to have a sudden cardiac arrest. Athletes who are over 35 and fall in this category may experience a fatal heart attack.

Cardiac arrest occurs when plaque buildup clots or ruptures in coronary arteries. The blood flow becomes cut off and that part of the heart stops receiving blood, causing a sudden attack.

If you have a history of smoking, heart disease, strokes, high cholesterol, or diabetes you may want to be mindful of how you feel during your workouts. While exercising, look out for any heart palpitations or abnormal difficulty with breathing.

Preventative Measures

If you have any family medical history that may lead to heart health issues, you may want to consult with your doctor about how much exercise is sufficient for you.

Performing a stress echocardiogram (ECG) can help your doctor analyze your exercise performance and exertion boundaries. The test gets gradually more difficult and stops once you’re heart rate is at a certain level or 85% of your estimated maximum.

As you complete the test, your doctor will monitor your blood pressure, heart rate, heart beat, and any changes in your blood flow. They can track this by using electrodes attached to your chest and if blood flow to your muscles or heart begins to be limited, the machines will catch it.

By tracking these factors, your doctor can evaluate how your body does under intense physical exertion. Then, he or she can make the most informed decision about how much exercise you should do. Additionally, if there are any rhythmic abnormalities, your doctor can flag that and do further tests to find the source of the issue and address it.

If you are over 50 and exercise daily, keep tabs on how your body reacts to increased exercise and different types of workouts. Age increases chances for high blood pressure or high cholesterol, so monitoring those numbers will help you to stay aware.

Keeping up with your level of fitness and your risk for heart problems can help you to be the healthiest.


Exercise is an integral part of health, but eating well, avoiding smoking and drinking, and managing stress are important too.

Relying on just one aspect of being heart healthy generally won’t be enough and can even be detrimental. Aim to be the healthiest you can, but of course, enjoying your favorite sweets in moderation.