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Why Working Out Too Much Can Be Deadly

We’ve all been in the killer mindset – one last repetition or sprint to finish out the workout session. That extra bit of basketball workout will guide you to the glory land come playoffs, or those extra summer football practice will pay off down the road. Martin Lawrence embodied that mindset with a sauna suit, or sweat suit when he famously went jogging in the summer heat, to only end up in the hospital. Shaking your head? Well, we’re all guilty of it when we strap on extra weighted vests or resistance bands and go the extra mile, only to end up hurt. Just like life, you have to know when to push on and when to hold your horses. This week, we’ll explore the dangers of exercise bulimia and how working out too much can be bad.

The other day, I ran into an old friend of mine who was limping around on crutches. This friend that for the sake of confidentiality we’ll call Jillian (no relation to the fitness guru Jillian Michaels), had aggravated an old ACL knee injury and for the time being, was limited to non-weight bearing on her left leg. She had previously torn that ligament in a snowboarding accident years ago but through hard work, she was able to rehabilitate back to full strength. In fact, the injury had motivated dear Jillian to become even more fit and that bunker mentality she developed (aka stubbornness) engulfed her life and she would push her body to the limits. Well, her false sense of validity manifested into overworking her body and not listening to it when it was clearly telling her to slow down. Jillian was fortunate to have only aggravated an old injury but many people with her mindset that do crossfit workouts and circuit training put themselves at risk of getting a visit from Uncle Rhabdo, or rhabdomyolysis. As we know about rhabdomyolysis, the breakdown of muscles can be so great, our kidneys become shutdown from the large amount of protein that clogs up the renal function. Without kidneys, our bodies cannot filter out the hazardous chemicals that are byproduct of daily bodily function. Some folks luckily recover from rhabdo, others end up on dialysis or worse: death.

Our society puts us susceptible to the many weaknesses of the human psyche. Vanity and insecurities caused by our emphasis in maintaining an unrealistic and inaccurate form of beauty. This causes us to develop an exercise addiction or orthorexia (orthorexia nervosa). We have this mindset that we can only lose weight by working out harder when in reality, weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight comes down to diet and simply being in negative caloric intake. In layman’s terms, consume fewer calories than you will burn.

Is having an addiction to something healthy such as working out bad? Working out is not a bad thing, in moderation, but developing an addiction means you’re probably going to be picking up other addictions along the way. Additionally, you’re probably so focused on working out, hitting the gym, and living a “healthy lifestyle” that your personality and life becomes stunted and very narrow in spectrum.

As we gracefully age, our body takes longer to recover and a shorter time to pick up an injury. Those individuals that can run at the golden age of 60 or 70 years old are the extreme exceptions of our society, and are the beneficiaries of good genetics and fortunate luck of never having to play high impact sports that down the road, limit our mobility. Being realistic with our bodies and knowing when to quit or rest is no sign of weakness. It’s simply being responsible and developing a good understanding of our bodies and ourselves. It also cultivates a mentality that focuses on the best for us and in the greater scheme of it all, is loving yourself. This article is just an opinion and informative piece, so take it with a grain of salt and take no offense from it. As always, consult a medical professional prior to engaging in any new exercise or diet plan.

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