bike75.gif (2872 bytes)


  Last updated: 1/15/2016

Cardiovascular Issues


Can you train too much? This article suggests you can exercise too much - to the detriment of your physical health. But how much is too much? Unfortunately we, the baby boomers, are at the leading edge of the curve of a new group of ultra athletes - and only time will sort out the answer. Until then each of us will have to answer that for our selves.

And here is another review I did in 1/2016:


I was asked: "How 'healthy' is the high intensity cycling that I've been doing (at over 50's)? By high intensity I mean continuous effort at 85-90% HRMax with touches of 100% HRMax. And then a few days later I ran across this article in the NYT that stated, assuming no family or personal history of heart disease, there was "... no evidence .there is a level of exercise that is dangerous or too much for a normal, healthy person." Although this is generally true, there is sound evidence that there is indeed an upper limit for cardiac healthy exercise. The curve of benefits versus exercise volume doesn't just plateau, it probably starts to drop off as the extremes are reached . A few examples:

So what is the answer to the reader's question? First, there is no solid data on the upper limit of beneficial exercise (where more is really less health wise). And my comments assume you have no family or personal history of cardiac disease or sudden death.

There are two potential health risks from high intensity cycling - Musculoskeletal (or overuse) injuries and cardiovascular. The musculoskeletal injuries are known to all of us who exercise and participate in aerobic sports. Overuse leads to injury. And the cure is to listen to your body, and if it hurts when you are using it, decrease your activity level. The cardiovascular risks appear to be from repeated stress at the ultraendurance event level. (Pushing through the pain, as it were.) Although acute stress might cause some modest cardiac muscle injury (and leakage of muscle enzymes into the blood where they can be measured) this heals within a few days, and only with repeated injury/healing/injury does scarring appear to be a risk.

There is no evidence that short term, high level exertion such as 30 to 60 second intervals is harmful and also no sound evidence that intervals longer than this add benefit to cardiovascular fitness.

My Bottom Line? Pushing your limits (within reason) is not harmful to your health. But cardiovascular risk appears as you move to the ultra event level.

Questions on content or suggestions to improve this page are appreciated.

Cycling Performance Tips
Home | Table of Contents | Local Services/Information