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Is too much exercising bad for you?

Published on Friday, 10 October 2014 16:47

Gym 630px 14 10 10Everything from yoga to kick boxing is gripping minds in the name of fitness these days. Hence, it is not surprising to see a gym or salsa class at every corner of the city. Those who don’t go to any formal exercise paradise will be doing brisk walking in the early hours or doing funny-looking asanas or yogic breathing. All this is being done in the name of fitness. But, how fine are such fitness regimes or do they give more pain than pleasure? Let’s find out.

Goodness of Exercise: Exercise has many advantages that cannot be overlooked. Physical activity certainly enhances and maintains fitness and overall health and wellbeing.

* It has been shown to boost the immune system and cause weight loss or prevent obesity and Type-2 diabetes.

* Exercise also improves mental health and helps prevent depression and promotes self-esteem.

* For athletes, exercise is a must to continue the sport in which he or she wants to become a professional.

* Exercise also reduces levels of cortisol, which is a stress hormone that builds fat in the abdominal region.

* It may even cure insomnia

The World Health Organisation says that lack of physical activity contributes to approximately 17% of heart disease and diabetes, 12% of falls in the elderly, and 10% of breast cancer and colon cancer. There is some evidence that vigorous exercise is more beneficial than moderate exercise. Some studies have shown that vigorous exercise by healthy individuals can increase good hormones like Anandamide (something which gives ‘Anand’), testosterone and growth hormone. However this pleasure can become pain under certain circumstances. Read

Stress: Under stress, the adrenal glands release corticoid including cortisol, costicosterone and cortisone. Cortisol has been studied most extensively. Over the long-term, elevated cortisol may be as detrimental to overall health as elevated cholesterol or elevated blood sugar. Excessive cortisol release leads to a lowered testosterone-cortisol ratio, which means that body is unable to recover from exercise and build muscle. Further, as cortisol continues to increase, it increases the chances of muscle atrophy, impaired immunity, vitamin depletion and hypertension.

Exercise and cortisol: Many people continue to increase both volume and intensity of exercise as they progress, although the body cannot adapt to this over a long period of time. As intensity of exercise goes up, exercise volume must go down. Long duration and intense exercise sets the body in muscle breakdown mode, where there is a net protein breakdown in the body. During this time, cortisol release is high to decrease muscle inflammation. On one hand, it reduces inflammation but on other hand it builds belly fat. While this is a natural response, excessive cortisol is associated with overtraining.

Nutrition and exercise: A simple rule – if you have to feel the goodness of exercise or exercise to the optimum, you need to give right and enough energy to the body. Even if you plan to eat less for weight loss, please know the right amount and source of energy foods you need. If you don’t supply enough energy to the working muscle, there will be a breakdown of body muscle to supply energy. Also, high protein, no-carb diets are harmful to the body. Low energy means low levels of blood sugar and this stimulates the secretion of cortisol.

Lack of sleep and cortisol: Current research indicates that sleep deprivation can lead to an elevation in cortisol and is harmful to carbohydrate metabolism. Sleep loss is associated with striking alterations in hormone levels that regulate appetite and may be a contributing factor to obesity. Anyone making a commitment to losing weight should probably consider a parallel commitment to get more sleep.

Over-exercising and free radical war: One of the best ways we can counter and overcome stress in our lives is regular exercise. However, not all exercise is good for fighting the free radical war. Free radicals are toxic agents that damage the cells, which result in poor functioning and cell death. In fact, excessive exercise for which the body is not prepared can actually cause extensive oxidative damage. Free radical production goes up during exhausting, high-intensity workouts and such free radical activity is associated with oxidative damage in the muscles, liver, blood and other tissues.

Hence, at the heaviest training levels, there is increased susceptibility to cancer, heart attacks, cataracts, premature ageing and decreased immunity. Reasons why there is increased free radical damage during exercise are: the consumption of oxygen goes up 10-20 times by the over-exercised muscle and there is an increased output of super oxide radicals and this overburdens the antioxidant defences mechanism.


Last Updated on Friday, 10 October 2014 16:47