Doctors usually recommend exercise as a part of a healthy lifestyle
So we generally assume that exercise is always healthy. And if exercise is necessary for your health, one would assume that the more exercise the better!
This is, in fact, a dangerous and deadly assumption to make. There are many deadly conditions that can result from extreme exercising.
Many medical specialists have studied what constitutes the correct way to exercise. But, the modern compulsion to appear physically perfect leads to people ignoring their expert warnings.
Many deadly conditions associated with extreme exercise are reversible once the symptoms surface. However, there have been cases where even famous athletes have suddenly died mid-exercise.
When Jogging Kills
Everyone presumed that James Fixx was the poster-child for health and fitness. After many years of living as an overweight smoker, he sought to change his life and become healthy.
Fixx even wrote a best-selling book to motivate others to do the same. “The Complete Book of Running” made him a guru to others wishing to also improve their lifestyles.
On a regular July day in 1984, Fixx went for a jog. The day before, he had played an enjoyable match of tennis with his sister. But shockingly and inexplicably he had a heart attack while jogging, and passed away.
This surprised the world, as his healthy lifestyle would make one assume he should live a long life. What doctors discovered at his autopsy would alarm them. Fixx had advanced heart disease. However, he had shown no outward signs.
The exercise he undertook to make his heart healthy, didn’t do that. Does this mean that exercising for heart health is a myth? The Doctors were stumped.
Endurance Athletes Need to Know Limits
Dr. Paul Thompson, Director of Preventable Cardiology at Harvard Hospital in Connecticut has studied cardiovascular disorders in athletes. He wrote a book called “Exercise and Sports Cardiology“.
Dr. Thompson claims that 10% of patients admitted to his hospital with heart attacks had previously been exercising. Generally, most of these were unfit people who suddenly decided to exercise. Their bodies couldn’t handle the sudden exertion.
However, many were very fit men like Fixx, whose lifestyles contained regular exercise. He noted that there is usually 1 death that occurs for every 1.5 million exercises sessions. This showed that, ironically, endurance athletes were most at risk!
A 1982 Study in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that its quantity and quality of exercise is important. When men exercise between 1-19 minutes per week, 1 in 17,000 will die. For men who exercised between 20-139 minutes per week, the statistics drop to 1 death per 23,000. Shockingly, 1 in 13,000 men who exercise for over 140 minutes per week will suddenly die of a heart attack as a result.
A Harvard Alumni Health Study confirmed this idea. Moderation is the key to healthy exercise. It stated that indeed, exercise will reduce your risk of heart disease. But only when you expend between a minimum of 500 and maximum of 2000 calories per week. Any more than that makes no difference. In fact, it appears that it could be detrimental.
When Exercises Destroys Your Body
There are also other deadly side-effects to extreme exercise. During January 2017, three football players from the University of Oregon developed a deadly condition called Rhabdomyolysis (Rhabdo). They presented to the hospital with severe muscle aches and dark-colored urine.
After a grueling military-style workout, the young men’s muscles had begun to break down. Myoglobin, a protein from their disintegrating muscles had entered their bloodstream. When the protein entered their kidneys, they became overwhelmed and began to fail.
They are lucky they didn’t end up with permanent kidney damage and paralysis. If they hadn’t received immediate medical attention from doctors they could have died.
Rhabdo has killed in the past. Of 10 US army recruits that developed the condition during the years of 1958-1956, 2 died. And in 1988 a police recruit died of rhabdo during a training session. As a consequence, doctors recommended it become standard practice to ease such recruits into exercise and training regimens.
But with the current fashion to keep fit and look beautiful at all costs, what was once a rare condition is now occurring more frequently. In fact, in cross fit circles, they have nicknamed the condition “Uncle Rhabdo“.
When Exercise is a Deadly Addiction
The obsession with exercising is epidemic and unnecessary. Sadly, we live in a society that constantly judges our actions and our looks. Exercise can then develop into a deadly eating disorder, as a result.
Exercise Bulimia is when women, and some men, develop an addiction to exercise. The reasoning is the same used by people who develop Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa. Individuals want to control their lives through exercise. Their obsessive goal is to purge calories.
However, instead of becoming fit and healthy, their bodies start to waste away. Sufferers forgo other activities in their lives and start to miss work so they can fit more exercise time in. Also, they become dehydrated and develop reproductive problems. They can start to suffer things like osteoporosis, arthritis and develop fractures easily.
Like all eating disorders under that umbrella, this condition can be deadly. The damage these people do to their bodies and brains can be irreversible.
What is the Correct Way to Exercise?
Exercise is still crucial to a healthy lifestyle. A review in “Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise” explained how it is the super-active that are more likely to die, rather than the active.
How Doctors Advise You to Exercise in Moderation:
- Have your heart health checked properly, especially if you are a middle-aged male.
- Keep your exercise regimen to under 140 minutes per week.
- Avoid exercising in extreme temperatures. Extreme heat can dehydrate you. Freezing cold will constrict your arteries.
- Keep hydrated, especially in order to flush your kidneys. Also, don’t do heavy exercise after a hang over, as this leads to deadly dehydration.
- Listen to your body. Don’t dive straight into heavy exercise if you have had a break for a while. Take it slow if you are returning to exercise after illness or injury.
- Take regular breaks during exercise sessions.
- Curb your competitive spirit. Conditions like rhabdo are unheard of when people exercise solo. Trying to impress others or keep up with others, can cause you to go over your limit.
Exercise should never control your entire life. Even those who work in the fitness industry know when to clock out at the end of the day and return to regular life.
If your entire focus in life is exercise, you could be putting yourself in deadly danger. Exercise should be something that enhances the wonderful life that you already live.