The Checkup: Are Ultra Marathons Bad for Your Heart?

Looks like it—"excessive endurance exercise" puts people at risk for permanent heart damage, according to a new study.

• Proving that there can, in fact, be too much of a good thing, new research on ultra-marathon running—covering distances of 50 kilometers or more—found that “excessive endurance exercise” might be putting people at risk for permanent heart damage and deadly heart attacks. Turns out, these kinds of endurance events actually bring about changes in the heart, elevating levels of substances that cause cardiac damage and inflammation. At first, when the athlete is just starting out, those levels rise temporarily then return to normal. But as you repeatedly train at extremely high and intense levels, exposing your heart to the substances over and over again, “these compounds can lead to scarring of the heart and its main arteries as well as to enlarged ventricles—all of which can in turn lead to dangerous irregular heart beats (arrhythmia) and possibly sudden cardiac death,” reports the Scientific American. So what’s the exercise sweet-spot—the amount of time you should spend exercising to reap the benefits and mitigate the damage? Researchers suggest that athletes undertake no more than an hour of strenuous exercise (it can be longer if the exercise is less vigorous) a day and submit to regular heart checkups with their doctors. Us regular folks should stick with a “routine of daily physical activity” of between 30 and 60 minutes.

• A steakhouse in Haddonfield is offering teeny-weeny meals designed specifically for those eating after bariatric surgery. The nutritionist-designed menu includes four ounces of salmon with a carrot-ginger puree and sauteed spinach, and a three-ounce filet tip with cranberry quinoa and kale. The Philadelphia Business Journal has the story.

• Did ya catch the Pro Cycling Tour/Liberty Classic in Philly over the weekend? Local blogger Leslie has a pretty sweet photo recap.