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Runners often claim it is calming to exercise while emotionally distraught. But beware! Running angry can be bad for your heart.
Among the benefits of running, many people mention the fact that it helps de-stress, increase confidence, and relax you. Running after a stressful day at work, or just after an argument with your partner is tempting. It gets your mind off things, and the anger can even lead you to run more vigorously. However, recent studies indicate that being heavily active while you are emotionally upset or running while angry can increase the risk of having a heart attack.
The study, called INTERHEART and published last week in Circulation, was carried out by The New York Times. The study surveyed 12,000 cases of acute myocardial infarction across 52 countries. The results proved that individually, both intense physical activity and anger or emotional upset can trigger heart attacks in someone with underlying heart disease. But combining the two factors increases the odds. And “factoring in people’s age, general levels of physical fitness, body weight and smoking history did not change the results,” they found out.
Now, how do you know whether or not you have underlying heart disease? “If you have a family history of cardiac problems or symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest pain during exercise or after a heated argument, talk to your doctor about cardiac testing,” says The New York Times.
For all others, you can of course keep running if it helps balance your emotions, but you should still be careful. Don’t think that, because you are emotionally distraught, you can run twice as fast as usual, just to keep your mind occupied. Now more than ever, you should listen to your body and respect your limits. Being angry or upset will not protect you from physical injuries. When you feel you are going through a rough emotional time, try to combine running with meditation or yoga. And be kind to yourself!