Training or Straining?
"Did you work out today?"
"I can do 20 squats at once, what about you? "
"Hey Siri, how do you lose weight instantly?"
"Could you please share your gym trainer's number with me?"
Staying fit is in vogue currently. Especially since the pandemic, each of us has become cognizant and highly proactive regarding our health. The words "Healthy," "Immunity," "Quick Weight-loss," and "Fitness" are marketable enough and have become the new sales pitch.
The food and fitness training industries have undergone a rampant evolution. Keeping fitness in check is highly instrumental for a better lifestyle, but overdoing it may also lead to physical and mental distress and sometimes even death.
People flex their gym routines, workout playlists, muscle gain, and abs. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact, regular exercise prevents cancer and diabetes, battles depression, and helps us sleep better. The list of pros is quite long. However, the explosion of social networking sites essentially contributes to body-image concerns and eating disorders by highlighting weight management as an imperative for well-being. It causes people to conjure up the idea of a "slim-fit body," the pursuit of which may also result in fatality sometimes due to over-exhaustion. Instagram bodies are exceptions, not rules.
Speaking of a slim-fit body, how often do you come across the term "HIIT"? Let me rephrase it. How often have you done HIIT? High-Intensity Interval Training is a time-efficient body-training technique that requires you to work out to your maximum capacity, so much so that you must be short of breath by the end of it. Everyone seems to be doing these nowadays. What is so fascinating about it? The answer is the results, time efficiency, and convenience to do these anywhere anytime.
"7-minute workouts," "Lose 10 kgs in 3 months," "Burn 100 calories in a minute." These titles are impossibly tempting but are you aware that these workouts are as intense as efficient? Our bodies have a limited capacity for bearing exhaustion, and exceeding that capacity has several hazardous effects. For starters, over-exhaustion may lead to 'The Female Athlete Triad.' This triad includes menstrual irregularities, loss of bone mineral density (osteoporosis), and even eating disorders due to limited calorie restriction.
It may lead to decreased libido and muscular issues in men, possibly due to low testosterone levels.
Science talks about a 72-hour open window theory. As the name suggests, this basically means that after a session of acute endurance exercise, our immunity is impaired for 72 hours, making it easier for viruses and bacteria to infiltrate and infect the body. Evidently, our bodies become more vulnerable to bacterial invasion after a workout session, and hence, high-intensity workouts chronically repress the immune system in the long run.
The new culture celebrates pushing limits by sweaty workouts. "It is the key to a longer and healthier life." Well, then, how would you justify the cardiac arrests of athletes like David Sparks and Christian Eriksen? They exercised regularly, had a good diet, and yet suffered health issues. They had an entire team dedicated to their health. Pushing limits is the answer. Training is helpful; straining is harmful.
So is HIIT advisable regularly? "No," the doctors suggest, "not unless you are a trained athlete." Excessive exercise causes your heart to remodel as per the intensity. This is not a good sign. OUR BODIES ARE NOT MACHINES. There is a specific limit to human tolerance, and we should respect this limit, else it may backfire.
Now you might be wondering what exactly is overexercising. Well, that is tremendously subjective from body to body. Age, height, and weight determine the type and number of hours of workout appropriate for your body type. It would be best to estimate your maximum heartbeats per minute(resting bpm) and exercise in compliance with it. According to research, your heart rate while moderate exercising should be 70-80 percent of your resting bpm. Doctors verdict that 5 hours of moderate exercise weekly are necessary and two sessions of intense workouts per week are sufficient for an adult. Striving to strain beyond this is unfavourable for your body. But who will enlighten us with this knowledge? Our so-called gym trainers? Well, in most parts of the world, there is no restriction to entitle yourself as a trainer. Many of them are not qualified enough to tell us that HIIT done excessively may cause your heart to become more susceptible to cardiac arrests, gastronomical disorders, etc. Most trainers do not even know that women have a different posture for a particular workout compared to men. Their luring mantra is 'intensity and quick results.'
Intense workouts are seemingly "cool". Do you know what else is cool? People using body-shaming as a motivational factor. People take pride in being addicted to exercising. Addiction of any sort is harmful as it comes with withdrawal symptoms. Everyone fails to realise that there is a difference between determination and addiction.
Now let me state this indisputably I am not anti-workout. I wholeheartedly support it and try to do it myself regularly. However, this agenda raises consciousness that exceeding the limit doesn't increase your health benefits. Instead, it makes your body more vulnerable to a myriad of complications. Hence, consult a professional regarding the suitable hours and intensity of workout for your body and start exercising if you haven't already.