We can all get too much of a good thing. One slice of chocolate makes a delectable treat, but gobbling 10 pieces can give you a severe stomachache. A walk on a bright, sunny day can melt away life’s woes. Walking on the beach without sunscreen can just melt you.
What about fitness? Can too much cardio exercise shorten your lifespan?
A recent study suggests the answer is a resounding “no.”
The question may seem counterintuitive. After all, it seems nonsensical that someone might be too fit. It has long been scientific dogma that exercise improves and maintains good health. But some previous research has pointed to the possibility that overdoing exercise can have long-term consequences.
For example, one study noted athletes who regularly engage in sports had a greater risk of hardening of the arteries.
So, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic set out to see if extreme cardio fitness impacted how long we live. They looked at a population of 122,000 patients whose fitness levels ranged from couch potatoes to those with sculpted six-pack abs who practically lived in the gym.
The researchers found those who were the fittest lived the longest with no apparent ceiling to benefits of aerobic fitness.
Bad news for those who hate a workout. Poor fitness put people in the same category as smokers and those with diabetes or heart disease as a predictor of early death.
The study found that extreme fitness appeared to benefit those over age 70 the most. You’re never too old to keep in shape, it seems.
So, don’t be shy about spending all that time in the gym. In fact, go ahead and pitch a tent. Fitness is good. Extreme fitness is better.