Over the last decade, there seems to have been an increased universal motivation to consciously live a healthy lifestyle – whether that’s getting your vitamins from superfoods, or counting your macros to get them gains, or making sure you are training not just hard, but in fact smartly.
Often clouded over by our ambitions to train hard, there does lie a few risks associated with strenuous exercise. As a means of making sure exercise is done correctly and safely, we want to give you a few details on some of the dangers linked with repeatedly over-doing it at the gym.
If you’re focussing on getting fit with endurance sports (long-distance running, cycling, swimming), note that throwing yourself in at the deep end with strenuous cardiovascular functions can put you at risk of what is called arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms). This can be caused by extreme pressure put on your heart that induces permanent structural damage.
The immune system
Cortisol is a hormone secreted as part of the body’s adrenal response – think of the fight or flight response – the body needs to recover after dramatic moments of intense stress. With your body using high-levels of cortisol in exercise, if you expose your body to consistent overtraining, then you stay in this high adrenal mode. Thus the functions of your immune system can often be severely depleted.
High levels of cortisol have also been shown to have an adverse effect on the body’s ability of bone-building. Those who exercise far too extensively put their bodies through prolonged states of chronic stress, and therefore you may lose significant bone density. The bigger you pump largely and often, the bigger you are at risk to fractures and breakages
Gym-going is not just the behavior from wanting to get fit and healthy, but actually part of our ambition to transform our bodies. This is all fantastically well and good – go for it – but we cannot shy away from the risks that this puts us to in terms of mental health issues. The increased pressure of body image in the 21st century has associated links to body dysmorphia/muscle dysmorphia which are often developed through obsessive behaviors and gym addictions. Excessive training can suck those suffering from poor mental health into a cycle of poor self-esteem, irrational self-criticism, social anxieties, and muscle-building substance abuse.
Studies have found that those who tend to frequently over-train have similar biological functions as those with clinical depression – named ‘Overtraining Syndrome’. It is suggested that the stress of chronic recovery time is linked to depression from irregular levels of serotonin and tryptophan. This syndrome can cause chronic fatigue, insomnia, irritability.
Despite this discussion of how too much exercise can sometimes be unhealthy, please take these warnings with a pinch of salt – exercise is, of course, a vital cog in our functions as a healthy human being. Remember every BODY is different. If you do notice any irregularities with your health or have any serious personal concerns on your medical being, please be in contact with a healthcare professional.