Exercise Safely for Your Heart

safe exerciseEmory Saint Joseph’s Hospital welcomes sports cardiologist Jonathan H. Kim, MD, who recently opened a sports cardiology clinic on the Emory Saint Joseph’s campus. The recently recognized sub-specialty of sports cardiology is rapidly growing worldwide. Kim is the first sports cardiologist in the Emory Healthcare system and the only specialist in Atlanta to launch this practice, which focuses on evaluating and treating cardiovascular conditions specific to athletes of all ages and levels. According to Kim, patients include both high school and college students, professional and recreational athletes, as well as older and master athletes competing in various sports and athletic activities.

Dr. Kim recently answered questions about exercising safely for your heart, whether training for a marathon or maintaining good heart health.

Q: Is running a marathon dangerous for my heart?

A: Currently, there are no definitive data that implicates marathon running as dangerous for your heart. In fact, for those healthy enough to train for and run a marathon, there are clearly both mental and physical benefits. Bottom line: If you are interested in running a marathon, first consult your doctor or sports cardiologist to ensure you are physically fit enough to embark on a training regimen, then go out and enjoy your long runs.

Q: What is considered a “safe” level of exercise intensity while I’m training for a marathon?

A: It’s hard to define a “safe” level of exercise in terms of marathon training. I would recommend before embarking on any intense exercise regimen, such as marathon training, to consult your physician or a sports cardiologist. If it is felt there are no restrictions or safety issues after reviewing your health, any intense marathon training regimen, done gradually over time, is reasonable to consider.

Q: How will I know if I’m overdoing it? What are the warning signs I should look for to tell me I’m exercising too hard?

A: Great question. Certainly symptoms of chest pressure or tightness, extreme shortness of breath out of proportion to what one would expect for themselves, lightheadedness or dizziness, passing out, or feeling your heart race are all classic “heart” symptoms to pay attention to and talk to your physician or sports cardiologist about if you experience these symptoms. Listen to your body and seek guidance anytime something is not right or out of proportion to your normal sensations after exercise.

Q: I don’t feel the need to run a marathon, but I do want to maintain a healthy heart. What is a good exercise regimen that will keep my heart in good shape?

A: Any cardiovascular-based exercise regimen is good for your heart. In fact, a very recent study showed that even just a few minutes of running a day decreases mortality. Certainly, by the guidelines, it is recommended to engage in moderate level exercise for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week at a minimum.

About Dr. Kim

Jonathan Kim, MDJonathan H. Kim, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Cardiology at Emory University. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biology at Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar, Kim earned his medical degree from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine and pediatrics at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University, followed by a fellowship in general cardiology at Emory University. In addition to his clinic and research interests, Kim serves as an adjunct assistant professor in the Division of Applied Physiology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Kim’s clinic is open for three half days each week at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. For more information about the sports cardiology clinic, please call 404-778-6070.

Related Resources

Emory Healthcare Establishes First Sports Cardiology Practice


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