24 July 2010 ~ 1 Comment

Are you a Cardioholic – Part 3 – The Very Real Health Risks

In the first part of this three part article, I introduced the concept that too much of a good thing like exercise is not always a good thing.  In part 2, I outlined the signs of the addiction associated with the “runner’s high” – much like a high associated with a drug.  In case you are still asking “so what?”; still wondering what the problem is with being addicted to something as wholesome as exercise, then read on.  Working out hard will let you see results quickly, but continually overloading the body will eventually lead to negative consequences.  Whilst working out hard is good for bones, going at high levels of intensity all the time puts enormous stress on bones, joints and muscles.  

                         Thus if you are exercising for health and for the objective of keeping your bones strong, and are in fact over-exercising,  you may be having the exact opposite effect on bones, and in addition wearing out joints and stressing the very muscles you think you are developing or maintaining.

A woman training for a marathon, ran 6 out of 7 days every week for 3 months.  And she put pressure on herself to increase her speed to see how fast her body could go; so on top of the regular run she added the 2 mile running test  that the US Army uses to test soldiers’ cardiovascular and respiratory fitness .  The difference is that the army conducts these tests  twice a year!

                                        After months of this relentless (and grueling) routine, the woman wound up in Emergency Room with a painful pelvic injury – and it could have been worse.  She was forced to stop exercising for two months.

Another woman’s daily double workouts amounted to about 6 hours of exercise each day!  She recalled a day when she ran a marathon distance (26.2 miles) then went to the gym for a high intensity kick-box class so she wouldn’t miss a scheduled session.   Part of this was an obsession with being ultra-fit; though she admits to craving the “endorphin rush” that only exercise gave her.  On that particular day, she fainted after the kick-boxing class (dehydrated and exhausted) and experienced a heart arrhythmia.  To add to this she was later diagnosed with hypothyroidism – doctors saying that she had suppressed her thyroid by the over-exercising  – and the condition caused her to gain 10 pounds in a month! 



                          The adverse side effects of over-exercising  often lead to the exact opposite of what we are trying to achieve with the exercise  –  therein lies the irony and the danger.  And of course we still believe it won’t happen to us!  We have this all under control.  (Spoken like a true addict!)

Ultimately it is up to you to decide if your routine is becoming a dangerous habit.

Signs of overtraining include low energy, loss of motivation, fatigue, illness, ongoing joint pain or even abnormal heart rate (too high at rest or low during workouts).  If you experience any of these, and they are unusual, then let’s hope it is the fatigue that occurs first and forces you to take a break!! 

Even elite athletes take scheduled days off.  Coaches really understand the benefits of rest days.  If body-building is your thing then you know that workout programs are generally expressed as x-day split (3-day split for example), which includes a rest day in the “split”.  As body-builders, we don’t just cherish that day of rest, we understand that this is when the muscles grow; without the day off we would keep fatiguing the muscles and they would have no chance to recuperate and develop.

If you have recognized the dangers, start with small changes – like limiting workouts to an 2 hours a day, or cutting back a little on the intensity of strength training.  When you see the payoff in increased energy and minimal if any fitness loss, you can cut back a little more.  Eventually you will finally accept that cutting yourself some slack is a measure of good health.

Remember the Sixties’ mantra  –  Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll?  SixpactatSixty mantra is:         

                          Sets!      Grunts!       and          R&R!                              (Rest and Recuperation)

Post your comments or email them to info@sixpackatsixty.com.  If you email them let me know if I can share them.  I would love to post an entry consisting of reader’s comments.

Next post – back to discussing the joys of exercise!!

One Response to “Are you a Cardioholic – Part 3 – The Very Real Health Risks”

  1. Noriko 3 August 2010 at 3:10 pm Permalink

    Great info.I always wondered why I felt fatigued the next day after working out. I thought if anything I should feel more energy and not fatigued. after reading your article, I understand why I felt that way. I need to listen to my body and Start out slow and then add as my body adjusts. I do not need to workout for hours/day at a time. Also to ask experts for help (like this blog), listen to our bodies and rest. thank you.

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