Absolute Contraindications to Aerobic Exercise & Side Effects

Jason Williams
aerobic exercise side effects

There are two main health problems that can occur during aerobic training in the case of hidden or underlying health conditions; these are mainly down to underlying cardiovascular conditions or bad health conditions of people who start to run. If this is not taken into account or watched closely then the worsening of these health conditions can occur. Let’s consider the main causes of illness or even sudden death and the worsening of chronic medical conditions.

Cardiovascular Risks That Can Lead to Ill Health or Even Sudden Death

The most common cause of sudden death within aerobic training is AMI (Acute Myocardial Infarction), which is known as a heart attack. Plaques that develops within arteries progress over time and eventually rupture and occlude the blood flow, this is generally the case associated with being unhealthily and overweight. These types of occurrences usually happen when somebody who is unhealthy with a poor diet, starts to exercise heavily and run, while still eating their unhealthy foods along with their other bad habits.

The second most common cause of sudden death or severe illness is ventricular tachycardia. Because the heart is beating too fast, too slow or irregularly, it can’t perform its pumping function, in which case this can cause serious illness within the cardiovascular system or even sudden death.

The third most common cause of illness within athletes is a pulmonary embolism (PE). A PE occurs when a thrombus (blood clot), is commonly formed within the lower extremities. This happens when the blood clot becomes dislodged and embolises and travels via the inferior vena cava up to the right side of the heart. Once ejected from the right ventricle of the heart, this clot enters the pulmonary circulation where it gets lodged into the branches of the pulmonary arteries, inhibiting blood flow through into the lungs. A PE has a 20% fatality rate depending on how soon a person can get to a heart specialist clinic, Also known as a PPCI clinic.

The fourth most common cause is intracranial hemorrhage (nontraumatic). It most commonly results from hypertensive damage to blood vessel walls. This is usually caused by high blood pressure (hypertension), which usually occurs during running and most often during strength training.

side effects of aerobic exercise

Worsening of Health Conditions

Worsening of chronic medical conditions usually occurs in people with preexisting heart diseases. People may not know about their pre-existing heart defects or diseases. In this case, running can worsen these type of heart conditions, causing cardiac decompensation. This is why it is always best to check with your doctor that you have no underlying cardiac conditions, before starting any heavy cardiovascular activity.

How Do I Know That I Don’t Have Contraindications for Aerobic Exercises

The traditional recommendation is that you should go to your GP for a health check. So the heart check-up would be to make sure a person doesn’t have an underlying heart condition that they may not be aware of. This is usually done with a simple ECG test (electronic cardio gram), which will check if the heart is functioning normally and within its normal functioning capacity. There are basic questions you should answer before you start running. One of them is, are there any health problems that run in your family? (that are hereditary), The next important question is; do you have signs of heart problems that you have noticed, such as any shortness of breath, palpitations or pains around the chest of left shoulder? And finally are there any predispositions to certain diseases of the cardiovascular system that you know about?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you should definitely consider having a heart check-up first, as you might be at a slightly higher risk of having a cardiac event during your exercises, which should be avoided at any cost!

aerobic exercise contraindications


These are our recommendations to keep yourself safe before you think about running or performing any other intensive aerobic exercise. Physical examination is an essential part of a healthy life as this can help to define whether you have any underlying cardiac health conditions. These pre health checks should not be undervalued or you may end up paying the price for this neglect.

Although we have talked about the dangers that can be faced with aerobic exercise, as long as you receive regular health checks on your heart and general functions of the body. You will avoid being ever stuck in this situation. It is important to note than PEs, Myocardial Infarctions and other issues such as high blood pressure, can all be avoided if you keep yourself as healthy as possible.

If you do not have any underlying medical conditions and follow a good diet with a good amount of time spent with exercises, then the chance of a cardiac problem when running will be very slim. Just remember if you look after your body, your body will look after you!

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