Study: Exercising While Angry Triples Risk of Heart Attack

Angry exercising is risky, according to a new study. But don't blow off your workout just yet...

If you're a fitness enthusiast, you've likely hit the gym in various moods. Usually, post-exercise, you feel better due to the endorphin rush generated by physical activity. However, new research from Circulation suggests that exercising when you're extremely upset could be risky. The study involved over 12,000 participants from 52 countries who had experienced heart attacks, and it revealed a threefold increased risk of heart attack in those who were emotionally distressed and had exercised within an hour before the event. Dermot Phelan, M.D., director of the Sports Cardiology Center at Cleveland Clinic, explains this as the "exercise paradox." Essentially, if you have underlying conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, your risk of a cardiovascular event increases during exercise. However, regular exercise can significantly reduce your long-term risk if you have these conditions. Yet, while exercising, there's an elevated risk of a heart attack. However, keep in mind that this study primarily focused on individuals with pre-existing heart conditions, most of whom were male and average age of 58. There's no evidence to suggest the same risk applies to younger people or women without such health conditions. Many studies have consistently proven the stress-reducing benefits of exercise, which also contributes to overall heart health. This implies the advantages of physical activity likely overshadow any risks, even when you're feeling down. Jason H. Wasfy, M.D., a cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, mentions that many people successfully use exercise as a stress reducer, which is probably beneficial, considering stress is associated with numerous illnesses, including heart attacks. Dr. Phelan advises those opting to exercise when upset to consider any risk factors they might have. Any symptoms suggestive of a cardiac event, such as chest pain, tightness, disproportionate shortness of breath, or dizziness should be addressed promptly by a professional. That said, if you're young, healthy, and want to release some pent-up frustration through a workout, this study doesn't discourage that. Working out your frustrations in the gym is generally safe as long as you maintain overall fitness and health.

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