January 27, 2011

Too Much Exercise can be Hazardous to Your Health!

Have you ever seen a healthy looking marathoner? You know the kind...those that make marathoning (and training for them) a hobby? In my experience as a run director, I cannot recall one healthy, vibrant looking marathoner.  The ones I knew (and know) fit the stereotype of very thin, hallow looking, extremist wearing the usual outfit of spandex and dryfit. They run in the rain, the snow, the heat, the night, the day, and the wee hours of dawn. The women loose their boobs, their hips, and (usually) their periods (which can lead to osteoporosis at an early age...but I digress) while the men become skin and bones.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

If you are passionate about running all the power to you! I wish I could run more than anything (so perhaps I'm a bit jealous of their athletic abilities). However, it is a fact that too much exercise can make you sick. Over exercise can negatively influence the immune system to the point that the exercise addict picks up every cold and flu going around. Exercise causes stress within the body and with the right amount, it can lead to a stronger body. However, if the body is not able to rest and recover, tissues and systems break down without time to heal and strengthen and...voila...sicker than a dog. No one is immune to this effect, but you can train your body through slow progressive training to withstand larger doses of activity...to a point....everyone has their own special genetic ceiling (mine feels as high as a crawl space under a mobile home..but that's just me).

Addictions come in many forms. From the familiar (booze, drugs, smokes) to some we never consider (TV, Internet, shopping, and exercise). I, myself, am a recovering exercise addict. I know the feeling of urgency to get on a bike or StairMaster and exercise intensely for a s long as I can hold on. My addiction was fuelled by a fear of fat and I believe many of my brothers and sistas are motivated by the same. Unfortunately, this addiction will lead to imbalances and injuries that will bite you on your perfectly sculpted butt in the long run. I continue to work on limiting my cardio and focusing on a balanced exercise routine that includes resistance training (yawn) and flexibility (double yawn). It's a tough habit to break, but it is possible.

At any rate, it is important to note that exercise, like anything else (eating donuts, shoe shopping, watching Lost reruns, checking your Facebook for new friends) is the most beneficial in moderation. A healthy physical activity program should consist of a form of cardiovascular exercise (biking, walking, running, swimming, (good) sex, hiking,...yes, I said good, rowing, and the like), resistance training (weights, body resistance, bands, pool resistance), and flexibility (full body stretching).

Above all, do not compare yourself to the exercise addict feeling you are less healthy than them. The chances are good you are enjoying better health than those that are constantly running on the proverbial treadmill. Not that there's anything wrong with that.....

That's all I got.

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