The serious consequence of exercising too much

The next time you wish to sweat buckets, remember our body perceives overtraining as physical stress and spikes our cortisol levels. Heightened cortisol levels suppress immunity

author_img Luke Coutinho Published :  18th November 2021 12:35 AM   |   Published :   |  18th November 2021 12:35 AM

When it comes to exercising, a lot has been spoken about the consequences of being sedentary and underexercising. But, what about the other extreme, which is overexercising? “Too much of anything is bad,” and that stands true for exercise as well. While underexercising has its negative effects, there’s another set of problems over-exercising can bring.

Movement is medicine only when done the right way. In integrative and lifestyle medicine, one of the four pillars that we focus on is adequate exercise/movement. Now we want you to pay very close attention to the word ‘adequate’ here. Yes, exercise or movement certainly helps improve blood circulation and stimulate your lymphatic system, the garbage disposal unit of our body to get rid of toxins.

But we must remember that overtraining can cripple your overall health and strain your heart, just as much as undertraining can. A recent study conducted in the US revealed that too much exercise may be bad for your heart. This may come as a shock to many. For the longest time, inactivity was linked with a high risk of cardiovascular disease.

The findings of this study concluded that those engaged in long-term highintensity workouts were at an increased risk of developing coronary artery calcification (CAC) by the time they reached middle age. This could also explain why so many young and middle-aged people, fitness enthusiasts with ripped bodies, are dying of sudden strokes and heart attacks. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon these days to hear about people losing their lives because of this and it might come across as a shock to all of us.

But when you look at their lifestyles, they were probably going through some stress - emotional or physical. Exercise is a necessary aspect to boost heart health, but overexercising can tax your heart. And this is even worse when coupled with under- sleeping. Recovery is everything. How can you expect your body to perform optimally if you do not give it the time it deserves to repair and heal? And unfortunately, many young people today are falling for the trap of overtraining and under-eating, often undermining the injuries and harm it can inflict on their bodies. How does one tackle this?

Let’s Deep-Dive Into It

Find out if your nutrition is in alignment with your exercise regime

Over exercising and under eating will not help you. And truth be told: The quality of the foods you eat directly impacts your workout goals. Any form of exercise you engage in - aerobic, anaerobic, yoga, pilates, strength training, or bodyweight exercises - increases the metabolic demands of your body. But when your nutrition is not in alignment with that level of activity, your body starts using its reserves and this leads to nutrient loss, nutritional deficiencies, and even muscle wasting in the long run. So, if you think sweating it out in the gym, and eating skimpy meals, or following fad diets is your secret to fat loss, then yes, you might lose some fat, but at the cost of what? Your health. So, find out what exercise regimen suits you best and align your nutrition to it.

Here are a few tips to follow:

1) Eat the right kind of carbohydrates. Carbs are the most important source of energy that fuels your body for workouts. Are you engaging in short workouts like HIIT or sprints? Eat simple carbs like fruits, dates, or potatoes that can supply quick fuel. Need the energy to last longer in high-intensity workouts?

2) Get the combination of carbs, fat, and/or protein in your meals. It could be fruit + nuts, fruits + nuts + butter, or sweet potato + coconut oiL

3) Get vitamins A and C in your system because they help reduce stress from workouts. Maintaining good levels of Vitamin D can boost bone health and immunity. Vitamin B complex metabolizes carbs, fat, proteins, and Vitamin E is a rich source of antioxidants. We come across so many aspiring runners, who train intensively, but have low levels of Vitamin D. That is detrimental, not just for your bones, but for every aspect of your health

4) Did you know workouts create micro-tears in muscles? Yes, it is common and is what helps you build muscle mass when good sources of nutrition and blood move into these areas and heal them. Eating quality proteins an hour after your workouts can help your body recover better. Rich sources of these include sattu, eggs, rice, beans, lentils, legumes, chicken, or fish. Make your post-workout meal a priority

5) Good fats and Omega 3 are essential when it comes to recovery, fat burn, or even balancing hormones effectively. The anti-inflammatory properties of Omega 3 boost heart health. Rich sources of these in your meals like nuts, seeds, fatty fish, whole eggs, etc

Other Risk Factors For Sudden Cardiac Arrest And Heart Attacks

Disrespecting Rest And Recovery

Rest is a part of the plan. You exercise more, you rest more. It is as simple as that. It is not a cool idea to skip sleep to go for a morning run or sweat buckets in the gym. It might get you several likes and comments on social media but at the what cost? Your health. Even pro athletes do not train every day. Rest days are a part of their schedule and for a good reason. Overexercising and undereating can put immense stress on your cardiac muscles, and increase inflammation. So, learn to relax

Sleep Deprivation

Sleep enough. It may seem too simple for people to believe that it can prevent heart attacks, but the fact is that simplicity works. Sleep deprivation is a serious and silent pandemic. It is time we stop glorifying the hustle hard culture. There is nothing cool about sleeping for 4 hours or less, to finish work, assignments, or even worse, fulfilling social commitments. Just like any other organ, your heart needs its quota of rest, and a lack of it can send it into overdrive. Sleep debt also negatively impacts your body by causing inflammation, mood swings, lowering immunity, affecting digestion, impairing cognitive function, and reaction time.

Simple tips to keep in mind for adequate exercise

1) Reflect on how active you are

2) Keep exercise simple and holistic

3) Don't engage in under-exercising or over-exercising. Focus on adequate exercise

4) If you only work for an hour every day but end up sitting for the rest of the day, you are still engaging in sedentary activity Focus on activity levels throughout the day

5) Move every hour

6) Get a step tracker if you must

7) Try to walk at least 10,000 steps in a day. It is not a magic number but a good indicator of activity levels because clocking them requires effort

8) Don’t punish your body

9) Rest and recovery are a part of fitness. Make it count

Lack of testing

Ignorance towards your cardiac health, regular screening of your heart and blood parameters especially when family history is involved can come with a heavy price. Regular checkups like a stress test, ECG, 2D Echo, CRP levels are not to be procrastinated.

You can skip your yearly vacation, but not a regular screening of your heart and overall health. A lot of times, there can be a lot going on in our body silently, and before we realize that, it can be too late. So, prioritize this. Early detection is the best preventive measure.

Post - Covid Risks

If you have recovered from Covid or are overcoming it, all the more reason to protect your health. One of the serious side effects of Covid is heart-related issues. The root cause is increased inflammation, and it is a well-established fact that high and uncontrolled inflammation is a threat to your heart, irrespective of age. Your cholesterol levels are not as much a problem as high inflammation levels. Plus, more and more cases of post Covid patients complaining of clot in the blood are emerging, which can pose a serious risk of a heart attack as these clots can settle in any part of your body and cause heart attack. What should you do? Get yourself checked, listen to their advice, and most importantly listen to your body and take rest. Once you have recovered, get a full body checkup to assess your health and when your doctor gives you a go-ahead, start slow. You do not have to go all out at once. Training too soon or too heavy is not ideal.

Some signs to watch out for: use your gut instinct and get yourself checked

Chronic emotional stress

Everyone goes through emotional stress, but my question is - what are you doing about it? If stress is a risk factor for inflammation and cardiac problems, isn't it enough motivation to do something about it? Learn to accept and let go of what doesn't serve you anymore, but you have rented out plenty of space to it in your heart and mind. Learn to forgive, because you too have been forgiven in life. Learn the art of breathing. And if things are getting out of hand, seek professional help.

Respect Bio-Individuality

While prolonged and intense exercise can strain your heart in the long run, moderate-intensity exercise can help it do its job better. It's great to set your eyes on the goal of having a fit body or have idols who inspire you. But we shouldn't forget that each of us is a bio-individual. We cannot compare ourselves or adopt routines that professional athletes or bodybuilders follow. They adhere to strict regimens which demand them to eat, sleep, train and repeat. On the other hand, laypeople like us shuttle multiple responsibilities like running our homes, businesses, work, families, and so much more. If you wish to train hard, you need to do it under professional guidance.

Ensure that you are eating and resting well every night. Our body perceives overtraining as physical stress and spikes our cortisol levels. Heightened cortisol levels suppress immunity, increase the risk of injury, and lead to weight gain in the abdominal area in the long run. Athletes who train for more than two hours in the gym take vitamins and supplements to keep their cortisol levels low. They also eat nutrient-dense, balanced and well-rounded meals. The needs and limits of your body will never be similar to others. So, respect bio-individuality and find what works for you.

A fit body without going overboard? Here are the top four exercises you can do

1) Consistent walking

2) Yoga

3) Bodyweight training

4) Dance/ Pilates

Our six-pack or size zero figure doesn’t determine your strength and fitness. Nei-ther does going to the gym every day. In our line of  work, we meet several gym-goers who can deadlift but struggle to do a pull-up because it recruits multiple muscles and handles bodyweight.

So, focus on bodyweight exercises in-stead. Have a bar at home? Try a pull-up or chin-up to test your real strength.

These require incredible power. It may be difficult at first but will show results in the long run. We encourage everyone to master it.

Start with one pull-up in a day because these exercises define strength, endurance, flexibility, and gility. Use that bodyweight right. Try squats, lunges, and supported push-ups. If  you  have  an  injury  and  your  doctor has advised you against it, refrain from doing it.

Working out just for an hour a day and sitting for the next 11 hours isn't the right way to go. Assess how active you are over and above your designated workout rou-tine. What are your overall activity levels? Do you get up every hour to stretch,twist your torso, bend forward and touch your toes? Do it. Take it a step forward and do 10 burpees, push-ups, and jump-ing jacks. This will keep you active and stronger. It will increase your metabolism and boost your immunity and fitness quotient without putting immense pressure on your body.

The irony  is  that  all  of us know  most  of  this,  but somehow  we  fail  to  put  them  into practice. We might plan external  circumstances  like  work pressure, society, stress, boss, colleagues, for it and victimize ourselves of it, but the truth is there is always a choice. And who makes that choice? YOU. We are a sum of the choices we make.

Fit or unfit, anything can happen to our heart if  our lifestyle is wrong. The world is becoming more fake and plastic.

While everyone wants to look good and appear good, inside of them they are dying emotionally with stress. It’s time to break yourself down and build yourself  again the right way. The body and heart are resilient, but when you push it beyond its limit, it does not care whether  you  are  a  successful CEO of  a flourishing business, or an athlete, bodybuilder, billionaire, doctor, nutritionist, actor, politician or even a commoner.  We must never forget this fact. Our health is a gift of  life. We are gifts of  life. So, never abuse a gift as sacred as life. 

Wishing the best of health to everyone.

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