Study: Endurance sports could hurt your heart

MASON CITY, Iowa – Exercise to get healthy.

It’s simple advice, but there can sometimes be complications.

A new study says we need to pay closer attention to our bodies because going to extremes for health may cause complications.

Curt Krieger from Mason City is known for his passion: running.

“I ran long distance sports when I was in high school. I took sort of a break when I started college, but there was something missing and I always enjoyed the time

And the peacefulness of being out and just running,” said Krieger.

And his running has taken him far.

He’s been in more than 20 marathons now because of his love of the challenge.

He’s also coached cross country for many years.

Krieger says all that pounding the pavement has taken a toll on his knees, but not enough to stop him from what he loves doing.

“I used to take a break in the winter all the time but now I try to snow shoe and when I took the break I started having some problems with my heart, my heart would go into atria fibrillation,” said Krieger.

That means a fast and often irregular heartbeat.

It’s one of the problems associated with athletes who consistently push their bodies, according to Dr. Brian Olshansky with Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa.

He says the health benefits athletes’ gain from their sport can sometimes come with side effects.

“They are getting more winded sooner, more fatigued sooner, feeling palpations really fast heart rhythms or just even at rest they don’t feel quite right feel irregularities in their pulse,” said Olshansky.

Olshansky says those are things everyone should watch for and whether you’re an endurance athlete, or just looking to get the blood flowing, he recommends moderation.

“Pushing yourself too hard for too long and too fast can actually increase the risk of potentially worrisome and serious heart rhythm disturbances,” said Olshansky.

For Krieger, there’s nothing like the feeling of a long run, and while he’s confident in his health, his advice to others is to find some kind of activity you can be passionate about.

“The main thing is to make a habit out of moving every day not necessarily running but get out and walk, get out and just enjoy the outdoors,” said Krieger.

Dr. Olshansky says don’t get the wrong idea: exercise is great for you.

He says he sees the heart rhythm problems increasing after years of people continue to push themselves in endurance sports.

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