Are Intense Workouts Good for Your Heart?

Are Intense Workouts Good for Your Heart?
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At this point, it’s safe to assume almost anyone within reach of a WIFI connection is aware there is a storyline within the Sex and the City reboot series And Just Like That… which deals with heart health and cardio workouts. Namely, a Peloton cycling workout.

If you have not seen the series yet, which premiered on Binge on December 9, I will warn you now that spoilers are coming and you should go watch episode one of And Just Like That… before reading the rest of this article.

Cool? Let’s move on, then.

In the series, Mr Big (played by Chris Noth) has bought himself a Peloton – as any wealthy New York City man does – and has begun a rigorous workout routine using the device.

In the first episode, Big completes a 45-minute cycling class with an instructor (who was played by a real-life Peloton instructor, reportedly) and afterwards, goes into cardiac arrest. The central love interest for Carrie Bradshaw dies shortly after.

The move caused a whole damn explosion online, leading Peloton to have to give a statement on the fictional events. Stocks were even said to have dropped by 10 per cent overnight. Talk about an engaging storyline.

Cardio exercise and heart health

And Just Like That HBO peloton cardio health cycling
Chris Noth as Mr Big, And Just Like That HBO

Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., a preventative cardiologist and member of Peloton’s health and wellness advisory council gave a statement in The Los Angeles Times explaining that, well… Big’s cause of death was unlikely to be his cycling workout.

“I’m sure SATC fans, like me, are saddened by the news that Mr. Big dies of a heart attack,” she said.

“Mr. Big lived what many would call an extravagant lifestyle—including cocktails, cigars, and big steaks—and was at serious risk as he had a previous cardiac event in Season 6. These lifestyle choices and perhaps even his family history, which often is a significant factor, were the likely cause of his death.”

Wild that we’re exploring the cause of death of a fictional character to this level, but this is SATC, people. You can’t kill off Mr Big and not expect a huge reaction.

Steinbaum continued, sharing that a regular workout routine including cardio fitness training may have helped stave off Big’s heart attack for some time.

“More than 80% of all cardiac-related deaths are preventable through lifestyle, diet, and exercise modifications,” she said.

Peloton’s rebuttal

In a pretty genius move following the death of Mr Big, Peloton has gone and cast Chris Noth in an extremely on-the-nose ad for their stationary bikes. Literally, the ad is titled ‘He’s Alive’.

Along with the caption, “You can write off a character but not the value of cardio,” Peloton has used the ad to make clear that cardio fitness is generally a pretty great thing for heart health.

In the ad, Noth’s supposed love interest (who is not Carrie) tells him “you look great”.

He responds, “Oh, I feel great” before dropping a little quip about taking another ride because “life’s too short not to”. Pan across to the Peloton bike sitting innocently behind the couch.

The ad goes on to state that:

“And Just Like That… the world was reminded cycling stimulates and improves your heart, lungs and circulation, reducing your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cycling strengthens your heart muscles, lowers resting pulse and reduces blood fat levels. He’s alive.”

The reality of it all

A quick look online shows quite clearly that, yeah, cardio workouts – and cycling in particular – are pretty great for heart health, generally.

Better Health shares that “Cycling is mainly an aerobic activity, which means that your heart, blood vessels and lungs all get a workout”. The top of the list of health benefits it lists for cycling is increased cardiovascular fitness.

However, as was reported by The Age, studies do indicate that too much intense activity can also have a negative impact on the health of adults – especially those over 40 (like Big).

Julie Ward, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation told the outlet that “To keep your heart healthy, you should ultimately aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week.”

Additionally, this piece from the Washington Post back in 2020 spoke to the fact that endurance athletes who train at extremes for long periods of time can, at times, be at risk of certain heart problems.

Essentially, the message is to stay active, but don’t push yourself to work out at 100 per cent every single time.

And always, always chat with your doctor if you’re kicking off a new fitness routine or if you’re worried about your health.

If you want to keep watching post-Peloton, new episodes for And Just Like That… drop every Thursday at 7.01 pm AEDT on Binge.

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