My “Ask a Cardiologist Anything About Running and Heart Health” Appointment

After getting a referral due to my dad’s heart attack in February, I was able to talk to his amazing doctor about running and exercise in general as it relates to the heart.

I had an EKG and he said it was normal. He listened to my heart and said I have a flow murmur but it’s not anything to be worried about (I knew this…it was discovered when I was a kid). 


I’m SO happy I was able to take some of his time and hear straight from a cardiologist what he recommends. Basically, he just cemented my decision to cut those runs over an hour for my daily activity.

  • Running for 60 min. or less is perfectly healthy.
  • Running more than 60 minutes puts you at risk for atherosclerosis. But, he said he’d still put money on the distance runner over a couch potato for living longer.
  • Running for an hour and then doing something like weight lifting or yoga is fine because your heart rate wouldn’t reach those levels it does during a run.

His view on all this though is, “If you love running marathons…do it. We’re all going to die. You should have a good quality of life. If you’re running marathons to increase your lifespan, you’re not doing yourself any favors. And runners aren’t bullet proof. I’ve put stents in marathoners.” The fact that I can still get enjoyment from running shorter distances really made me happy I cut the long distance runs because my main reason for running is HEALTH! (Of course I love it too! But health, both heart and mental health, drives me).

He also said a mediterranean diet is the best heart healthy diet out there. I looked up some more info on it and found, “Fresh, nonstarchy produce is the main part of this diet, along with fish (low mercury, wild caught only), legumes, seeds/nuts and healthy oils. Lean meats and poultry are ok in moderation.” <– this is me! I’m eating mostly vegan, but more fish and less chicken and turkey these days. I don’t eat beef at all and once in a blue moon will have pork.

So I’m just going to keep doing my thing as far as diet and exercise go! I feel like I’ve got my new normal figured out now, and I feel good about it.

I asked him about the chest tightness I experienced AFTER the Gazelle Girl half marathon and he said he is more worried about that symptom if it comes DURING a normal run (one you’re not pushing your pace). If you’re pushing your pace and you get the I can’t breathe feeling, but it quickly goes away when you stop and doesn’t return when you start running the next day, that’s fine. I told him I had the same thing happen after I did a super fast treadmill workout (it was speed/recovery). He asked if I had my heart rate monitor on (no ☹️), because he said chances are you were in your anaerobic state and that’s just your body telling you that. So, no need to worry thus far for me.

Just continuing with 3 runs a week (30-60 minutes), 2-3 cross training days (HIIT, cycling, weights, yoga).

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