Many of us hit the gym to let off steam. But new research suggests that if you’re angry or upset, you may want to calm down before doing an intense workout.
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A new Canadian study has found that combining heavy exertion with a stressed or upset emotional state puts you at nearly a three times a greater risk of a heart attack.
The study out of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. was published in the journal Circulation on Monday, and analyzed data from 12,461 people suffering a first heart attack in 52 countries.
After their heart attacks, participants were asked if they’d engaged in heavy physical exertion and/or if they had been angry or emotionally upset in the hour before their symptoms began.
Researchers found that heavy exertion coupled with an extreme emotional state more than tripled the risk of having a heart attack.
The study controlled for a number of factors, including participants’ smoking status, body mass index, blood pressure levels, heart-related medications, gender and even age — the authors found no significant difference between age groups (under 45, 45 to 65, or over 65) or between men and women.
Barry J. Jacobs, director of behavioral sciences at the Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Residency Program in Springfield, Pennsylvania, says the study (which he was not involved in) provides further evidence of the link between mind and body.
“When you’re angry, that’s not the time to go out and chop a stack of wood,” said Jacobs. “All of us should practice mental wellness and avoid losing our temper to extremes.”
Regular exercise, of course, is extremely good for you. It prevents stress, heart disease and a number of other ailments. The biggest problem is that most of us don’t get enough of it.
For highly emotional individuals with a high risk of heart attack, the incorporation of yoga — with its focus on breathing, meditation and relaxation — might be particularly helpful. Group exercise classes in a social setting may also stave off feelings of extreme anger.