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“This can lead to heart problems for some athletes and gym rats: Your heart changes in size and shape with exercise.”

We all know exercise is vital for staying healthy, but can too much of it actually harm our hearts? That’s the question many experts are asking as they delve into the phenomenon known as “athletic heart.”

Regular exercise is great for overall fitness and well-being. It helps keep muscles strong, reduces the risk of diseases, boosts mood, and even slows down aging. However, when we push ourselves too hard, our hearts may undergo changes that can lead to problems later on.

The American Heart Association recommends around 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, along with some muscle-strengthening activities. But what happens when we exceed these guidelines?

Well, our hearts start to adapt. For endurance athletes like marathon runners, this often means enlarging chambers to pump more blood or thickening walls to handle increased pressure. While these changes may seem beneficial, they can also raise the risk of conditions like atrial fibrillation or coronary artery calcification.

Atrial fibrillation is when the heart’s chambers become enlarged and inflamed, leading to abnormal rhythms that can increase the risk of stroke. On the other hand, coronary artery calcification involves the buildup of calcium in the arteries, raising the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Despite these risks, exercise remains essential for maintaining heart health. Even if you’re not an athlete, incorporating regular exercise into your routine can keep your heart strong and flexible. It’s never too late to start, and even small changes can make a big difference.

In summary, while exercise is crucial for overall health, it’s important to find the right balance. By following exercise guidelines and listening to your body, you can enjoy the benefits of physical activity while minimizing the risk of heart problems down the line.

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