Apparently none of us are going to be able to lace up our sneakers until Nov. 9, because research from the Heart Association journal Circulation reveals that it might be dangerous to exercise while you're angry. This particular finding may be especially shocking to those of us who were raised in the School Of "Shake It Off" — I, for one, was a champ at angsty swimming in high school, and continue to angsty run in adulthood. Previously, research supporting the mental benefits of exercising caused by the increase of endorphins would lead us to believe that exercise is good for you no matter what your mood. Sad? Go for a run! Happy? GO FOR A RUN! Shaking your fist up at the sky and smiting Mercury and its ever-present retrograding? ... Maybe don't tie up your laces just yet.
As it turns out, the way that you exercise while you're angry still affects your mood in a positive way — but at an unexpected cost. Exercise motivated by anger might actually put your heart health at risk. The researchers examined two common triggers of acute myocardial infarction, or heart attacks: emotional triggers, and physical exertion. The definition of emotional triggers is actually kind of vast and a little unexpected — it can be something as dramatic as a death in the family, or something as seemingly ordinary as a sports match. Physical exertion includes any kind of activity that revs the heart up past its usual resting heart rate. The study found in the examined cases that both triggers increased the risk for heart attacks, but the two triggers combined — particularly when within an hour of each other — created a further likelihood for heart attack that was statistically significant.
While a study like this might seem well out of the realm of your concern right now, the truth is that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally — responsible for approximately 31 percent of deaths in 2012. According to the World Health Organization, other risk factors for cardiovascular disease include unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and harmful use of alcohol. "Physical inactivity" might raise a flag for you, given the contents of this recent study — but the authors assure that the risk of exercising while emotionally triggered should not deter people from their regular exercise plans, which are an effective prevention for heart issues.
So does this mean you should never exercise when you're peeved about something? It's really up to you to assess that kind of risk, given your own health history and that of your family. Exercise is undeniably a good form of stress release, if conducted in a safe and healthy way. But maybe just in case, next time you're #raging, start out with a walk; as Hippocrates said, "Walking is man's best medicine."