Heading to the gym when you’re angry may make you feel like you’re getting in a better workout, with all that aggression to fuel lifting your performance to the next level. But it could also send you someplace else you don’t want to go: the hospital.
Researchers writing in the journal Circulation say that working out while your temper flares puts you at greater risk of suffering a heart attack. They reviewed records from more than 12,000 heart attack victims worldwide. About 14 percent of those patients had worked out in the hour before their heart attack and roughly the same percentage had been angry or upset in the previous hour. Combining the two factors led to a double whammy of sorts, with about a threefold higher risk of a heart attack.
The researchers said these factors elevated the risk for people no matter their gender, their body mass index, where they lived or their age — the average age in the study was 58.
It is also interesting to note that all the heart episodes reviewed were “first” cases in which a person was having his or her initial experience with cardiac arrest. Many were people with no idea they had heart problems.
There’s a lesson in this data for the hothead in all of us: Before jumping into exercise to burn your frustrations, find some zen. Even if you believe yourself to be healthy, there’s wisdom in taking time to cool down mentally and emotionally before you ramp up the physical activity. You’ll probably enjoy your workout more, and you’ll be more likely to wrap up your session with lingering results no worse than sore muscles and sweaty clothes.