Endurance running is a popular form of exercise, and it may sound like a great way to build your stamina and your strength all at the same time. But is this workout really a healthy idea? Or could it potentially even be harmful to your health? Before diving into endurance running, continue reading to learn more about it.
The Truth: Marathon Running Can Damage Your Heart
Research has shown that marathon running, or endurance running, could actually be harmful to your heart. One study found that, while regular workouts reduce your cardiovascular disease risk by about two or three factors, competitive marathons actually increase your risk sevenfold.
On top of increasing your risk for cardiovascular problems, if you do a lot of long-distance running, it also causes higher levels of inflammation in the body, and that might also trigger cardiac events and ultimately damage the heart.
Heart Scarring Can Occur
Another study found that men who ran marathons often had at least some level of heart muscle scarring. It was most often found in men who had trained the hardest and the longest. When extreme, heart scarring could eventually lead to cardiac arrest, and it can be fatal.
Also, yet another study found that endurance athletes even suffer with a decrease in right ventricle function following the completion of endurance events. On top of that, these individuals had higher levels of cardiac enzymes in their blood, which are markers for heart injuries. Around 12% of the study participants also had scar tissue on the heart a week after they raced.
Increased Cortisol Levels
In addition to being bad for your heart, endurance running can also result in a rise your body’s cortisol levels. These levels can persist and eventually result in muscle loss and impaired immune function.
How to Exercise Safely
Just because endurance running is not the best idea certainly does not mean that you can no longer enjoy going for a run. Instead, you just need to change the way that you run. High intensity interval training, which involves short bursts of energy in between short periods of rest, is the best way to build your endurance and strength without compromising your heart.
You can also help your body recover after a workout by getting the right amount of sleep and eating highly nutritious foods that will give your body the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it needs to stay strong.