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Examining the Effects of Physical Activity: Georgia Southern Researchers Investigate Cardiovascular Health in Ultramarathon Runners and Examine the Point of Diminishing Returns


Sep 6, 2023

Researchers at Georgia Southern’s Biodynamics and Human Performance Center are conducting a study to determine the effects of extreme exercise on cardiovascular health. The study focuses on ultramarathon runners participating in the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run (WSER) in California. The WSER is a 100-mile trail race through the Sierra Nevada mountains, known for its challenging terrain. The researchers aim to investigate the benefits of physical activity beyond the recommended amount and determine if there is a point where excessive exercise may be detrimental to cardiovascular health.

The American Heart Association recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. However, the researchers want to determine if exercising for longer durations provides additional health benefits or if it may actually have negative effects on cardiovascular health. They believe that exceeding 300 minutes of exercise per week may lead to a partial loss of health benefits and potentially impact cardiovascular health.

The researchers collected data from 75 athletes participating in the WSER, measuring blood pressure, arterial stiffness, heart size and function, and kidney blood flow. Blood and urine samples were also collected. This comprehensive dataset is the largest ever collected at a single event of this nature. The researchers aim to analyze the data to determine if there are any correlations between extreme exercise, gut health, and cardiovascular health.

The Western States Endurance Run Research Foundation funded this research project. This is the third year that the research team has attended the WSER to collect data on the athletes. The previous studies focused on changes in gut health during exercise, which may be linked to cardiovascular health. By gathering data on some of the world’s most extreme athletes, the researchers hope to gain valuable insights into the impacts of physical activity and promote optimal cardiovascular health.

By Editor

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