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Blowing off steam can be risky

Last Updated: 17 January 2019








Blowing off steam can be risky

Have you ever gone to the gym or for a run when you’re stressed or angry with the aim of ‘blowing off some steam’? If so, you could be putting your self at more risk than you thought.

A new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, found that exercising or taking part in heavy physical exertion while being angry or emotionally upset tripled the risk of having symptoms of a heart attack in the hour afterwards.


The chief researcher explained that the body’s physical response to extreme emotions is similar to that of extreme physical exertion - blood pressure and heart rate both increase and blood supply to the heart is reduced. In people who already have narrowing of the arteries, this places them at high risk of a heart attack.


While we know that exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve heart health, the authors of this study recommend taking steps to control extreme emotional reactions such as practising relaxation techniques and mindfulness. And anyone at high risk of a heart attack should avoid exercising when stressed, angry or emotionally upset. 


Written by Ruth Tongue

(MSc Nutrition)


Smyth, A et al. Physical Activity and Anger or Emotional Upset as Triggers of Acute Myocardial Infarction. Circulation. 2016;134:1059-1067. 

Heart health
Mental health
Work-life balance
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