Sometimes when you’re just really steamed up about something, there’s no better way to blow it off than by hopping on a treadmill, taking a kick-boxing class or lifting a few weights. After all, they call exercise a cathartic release for a reason.
But what if we told you that working out while you’re angry could actually be pretty bad for you? That’s the latest revelation from the scientific community.
According to research, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, exercising while you’re P.O.’d could actually increase your likelihood of having a heart attack. Why? Well, according to the evidence, you’re already twice as likely to suffer a heart attack when you’re upset. Add in physical activity, and suddenly that likelihood skyrockets, making us three times as likely to have a heart attack within an hour of working out.
So basically, if you’re angry and then work out, your chance of having a heart attack triples. Yikes.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Andrew Smyth from Canada’s McMaster University, explained how emotional and physical triggers can have the same effects on the body. It’s that age-old, mind-body connection we hear about so often.
The researchers had 12,461 people who suffered a heart attack fill out a questionnaire about their own triggers an hour before their experience to get accurate results. To keep the samples fairly even, they asked people with an average age of 58 from 52 countries, and took other risk factors such as smoking, obesity and high blood pressure into account.
Of that sample, 13 per cent reported they had done some sort of exercise, while 14 per cent were angry or upset before their heart attack.
So does that mean we should just stop working out and grab a pizza instead any time we’ve had an emotional day? Not necessarily. According to the researchers, those who are already at risk thanks to some of the other aforementioned factors should attempt to avoid highly emotional situations and consult with their doctors before undertaking any physical activities their bodies aren’t used to.
“Excess anger, under the wrong conditions, can cause a life-threatening heart attack. All of us should practise mental wellness and avoid losing our temper to extremes. People who are at risk for a heart attack would do best to avoid extreme emotional situations,” said Dr. Barry Jacobs, the director of behavioural sciences at the Crozer-Keystone family medicine residency program.
Aside from that, there are several things you can do to lower your chance of having a heart attack, including watching your cholesterol intake, not smoking and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. And we guess, as of today, not working out when angry.