Rigorous Exercise INCREASES Risk of Heart Disease

In my search for the best in holistic medicine I have traveled the globe and spent time with healers of all types: shaman, psychic surgeons, qigong masters, faith healers, herbalists, bone setters… you name it.

While studying a method of qigong known as zhan zhuang (“Pile Standing”) in Asia, my teacher told me something very strange. He said: “This qigong exercises forces you to stand still and not move for a long time. Because of this, your energy will increase, your body will warm, and your muscles will strengthen. But you will not damage your joints from excessive movement, nor tax your heart through robust movement, nor damage the lungs through too rapid respiration.”

I have to say that I had trouble swallowing this last part and for the past 15 years I have been trying to reason out in my mind… why not increase heart rate and respiration? After all, isn’t the entire fitness industry in the Western world based on elevating heart rate, increasing lung capacity and burning calories from sweating and muscle strength development? Well, like with so many other things, it look like the ancient Chinese knew what they were talking about.

In recent research coming out of New York University Medical Center, it is suggested that the more often one engages in vigorous exercise the greater their risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF). AF is a condition characterized by irregular, rapid heart rate, which affect people in many ways from simple fainting to heart failure and stroke!

But isn’t this always the way? First something is bad for you, then good for you, then bad for you again. Don’t raise the heart rate doing vigorous exercise, said the ancient Daoist masters. Train hard and break a sweat and elevate the heart, said the masters of sport science. Sweating and elevated heart rate lead to heart disease, now say the academics–but with more tangible and less metaphoric examples of the why of it.

Odd thing is, there are always two sides to every coin. It’s not always so easy as Good/Bad, but the degree of good vs. bad on a continuum depending on who you are and where your health condition is. For relatively healthy people, with no serious biological health issues, exercise has been proven time and again to balance the body and stave off potentially life-threatening diseases, like obesity and diabetes. However, if on the other hand you do have unrecognized heart disease, then exercise may cause you to die from sudden heart attack. And the leading cause of exercise-related death among high level athletes IS coronary heart disease!

Before you decide that you do or don’t have heart disease, there’s more to the study that is important for you to know. In the study there were exercise and non-exercise groups. Men who exercised long or hard enough to break a sweat five-to-seven days per week actually increased their chances of developing AF by an enormous 20%! And the non-exercise control group? No increase in their propensity for AF.

The big surprise is this: the participants who were in the “break a sweat” group were deemed to be “healthy,” and made up of men under the age of 50 who run on a regular basis. Common sense would say the opposite results should be the case. But no, the study clearly shows that the incidence of atrial fibrillation in men who jog increased by a massive 50%! And it was up by 74% in young men who break a sweat on a regular basis!

By now, you may be worried about your own condition. However, it seems that AF is common and even expected in so-called healthy athletes. This is the case, because cardiomegaly (enlargement of the heart) is so common in athletes that doctors don’t even tell athletes they have a condition that can lead to heart disease. Yes, in normal, non-athletic people, if their electrocardiograms showed these same signs, the docs would be very concerned and let them know!

The long and short is this: the essence of the study indicates that breaking a sweat on a regular basis is bad for your heart. And history shows that marathoners and other top athletes die at a young age as a result of heart disease. And in China, where tai chi and qigong are practiced by millions… heart disease and young heart-related deaths are amongst the world’s lowest rates.

No wonder slow-burn exercises like walking, yoga, tai chi and qigong are considered as the safest and most effective exercise around the world. And the world is a whole lot bigger than the “experts” in the United States that get all the press.


Editor’s Note: Find this article useful or interesting? Scroll down to leave us a comment or share with your friends and family on social media.

Related articles of interest:

Alleviate Chronic Pain With This Ancient Pain-Relieving Practice

Healing Yourself with Sound

Syndrome-X: Is It Silently Killing You?



“Diverse patterns of myocardial fibrosis in lifelong, veteran endurance athletes,” J Appl Physiol. 2011 Jun;110(6):1622-6. Epub 2011 Feb 17.

“When Exercise Is Too Much of a Good Thing,” New York Times, March 9,2011


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Dr. Mark Wiley

Mark V. Wiley is unique. As a doctor of both Oriental and Alternative medicine, best selling author, martial art master and international seminar instructor… no one does for wellness what he does!

Dr. Mark’s interest in holistic and natural health practices was not just a mere curiosity; he was looking for long-lasting relief from the debilitating migraines and chronic pain that plagued him for nearly three decades.

His passion for wellness has led him to become an innovator in the field of holistic health with the creation of the self-directed wellness model called The Wiley Method. This Method is unlike other healing systems that look at the individual symptoms and diseases and work toward managing them. Instead, it takes a systems view of health as being intimately tied to ones body, worldview and lifestyle choices.

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  1. Anonymous says

    Like the doctor very well said marathoners and people who practice exercise for prolong periods of time with not much heart rate veriation develop this heart problems. But people that, practice short term high intensity interval exercises where they increase heart rate for a short period of time until they reach either their lactic acid threshold or oxygen debt and then take a break or decrease their intensity to recover, do not expose themselves to develop any heart diseases. On the contrary they increase lung capacity, increase HGH hormone production and improve a lot of the aging markers.

  2. Boomer12k says

    When they autopsy a heart attack victim they find a deficiency of Ubiquinol. IT is in every cell, but the heart takes up 80% of your bodies Ubiquinol. Hard, heavy exercise would help deplete that supply. Also long and heavy would over tax the muscle to breaking down tissue like a body builder with his Biceps, i.e. damage.
    There was a Racquetball player at a tournament here in town. He had a MASSIVE coronary in the lobby of the Gym!!!! 42, in the best health of his life!!!!! Non-recoverable…. probably also somewhat dehydrated from the competition.

    Qigong, is not about the MUSCLES, it is about the CHI!!! The bodies life force or energy. You “raise” it, build it, store it, flow it, project it. Chi does not flow well through a tense muscle, so it is done relaxed, so it can flow through all the meridians. (lines of energy flow). It is not about External strength, but Internal Energy strength. Your cells have and need ENERGY, just like they do any nutrients. If you get nutrient deficient, and hard consistent exercise can do that as well as not eating right, then you can have problems, and can even get disease. If you get ENERGY DEFICIENT….GUESS WHAT????? You got it. A German Doctor last century found that the CELL has a positive nucleus, with a negative membrane. ELECTRICITY IS IN YOUR CELLS….THE LIFE FORCE….CHI…..When that circuit gets clogged, choked, WEAKENED….guess what she found?????? THAT IS CORRECT!!!!! DISEASE!!!!! CANCER to be specific!!!! Go look up the Budwig protocol….

    Hard physical labor can damage you….ask any PYRAMID BUILDER IN EGYPT!!!!! They had bad backs, etc….their skeletons show this damage. Probably over worked the heart, and they were probably nutrient deficient as well!!!!!

    So, do your Kata forms, SLOWLY, and BREATH!!!!!! Chi is directed with the BREATH!!!!

    Be well and happy.

  3. MusherMaggie says

    Qigong, tai chi and like disciplines are also wonderful for those with asthma & COPD as well! I never had an asthma attack while doing tai chi, but how many children & adults do while doing strenuous exercise!?

  4. daleru says

    The inclination of man is to go from one extreme to the other. What did old Miyagi say to Daniel in the Karate Kid when he was up tight about life: Breathe in, breathe out. Must have BALANCE.
    Yeah, if only. . . . .This is a chaotic world and growing more so everyday.

    Perhaps we should take a lesson from the king of beasts on the matter of exercise. Lions never do more than they physically have to do, especially when hunting. They always choose to prey on the weak and injured or aging, not the young and robust. Why? It is as if they know what we don’t. . . . .that sustained strenuous movements of their body will make them age faster, even hurt them.

    All of life is balance–everything. Even the animals know it, if only by instinct.

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