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Exercise Caution | Dr. Ajay Mahajan

Exercise Caution

There is something as too much exercise – and that can be fatal. Let’s see how.

Everyone wants to live a good life and enjoy it while it lasts. But in this fast-paced life, this sounds like a pipe dream. Rising stress levels lead to youngsters falling prey to lifestyle ailments, which otherwise afflicted people in their old age. These diseases include hypertension, diabetes, heart attacks and paralytic strokes. Of these, the number of people who have died young due to heart attacks and resultant heart failures is only increasing.

Recent examples of this include singer KK, actor Sidharth Shukla, Amit Mestri and director Raj Kaushal. The reasons behind such fatalities are many.

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Addiction (liquor, tobacco and smoking)
  • Lack of exercise or over-exercise and irregular exercise
  • Excessive physical and mental strain.
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Addiction to social media
  • Irregular eating habits, having late meals, eating excessive fried and junk food
  • Obesity

The demise of these celebrities has made us sit up straight and realise how short life can be. While those who do not take care of themselves or exercise usually fall prey to cardiac ailments, it is very surprising that otherwise healthy and fit celebrities can die of heart trouble. It is difficult to pinpoint this as the precise reason in each instance. While lack of exercise can be a cause for such sudden deaths, another reason can be over-exercise.

In this article, we will read about the impact of exercise (heavy, inadequate and proper) on health and the heart. We will also learn about the right form of exercise and how it must be done.

The Adverse Impact of Inadequate Exercise

  • Obesity, rise in cholesterol levels
  • Hypertension
  • Heart trouble
  • Diabetes
  • Digestive problems
  • Insomnia
  • Low immunity levels

Side Effects of Excessive Exercise on the Body

The dictum ‘anything in excess is bad’ also applies to the human body. Excessive exercise has an adverse impact on the human body. Here are some results of over-exercise in the body.

  • ‘Sympathetic over-activity or rise in physical and emotional stress.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Arterial plaque ruptures in the heart and the blood supply is impacted leading to a heart attack.
  • Coronary artery vasospasm or sudden contraction in the vessels supplying blood to the heart. Smoking leads to an increase in such risks.
  • While exercising, the heart rate and the heart’s need for oxygen increase. In such circumstances, cardiac arrythmia can result from a pre-existing obstruction in the vessels supplying blood to the heart. This can cause atrial fibrillation, ventricular arrythmia, tachycardia and paralytic strokes.
  • Pre-existing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) leads to thickening of the heart muscle. This increases the pressure on the heart and raises the risk of early death.
  • Undiagnosed cardio-myopathy, myocarditis and channelopathies, cause damage to the heart muscle.
  • Some rare diseases like the anomalous origin of coronary arteries.

These factors can cause heart attacks and sudden deaths.

Defining Adequate Exercise

It is necessary for everyone across age groups to exercise. Proper exercise in one’s youth can reduce the risks of metabolic disease later in life. The right form of exercise depends on your physical form, age and eating habits.

Normally, you can determine the quantum of exercise based on your pulse rate. It should be 80 per cent of the result of 220 minus your age. It is a good idea to get a baseline ECG done before starting a new exercise. Undergo a medical examination by a doctor, and if any anomalies come to light opt for further tests on his or her advice.

Exercise for a minimum of 50 to 60 minutes every week or opt for at least 30 minutes of a medium form of exercise daily. This may include brisk walking, swimming, cycling, and dance. Start these exercises with a lower intensity and gradually increase the pace.

Other tips for adequate exercise include:

  • Give your body respite from exercise for at least one day a week.
  • Do not push yourself too much when you exercise
  • You must incorporate diverse forms of exercise in your workout.
  • Do not exercise on an empty stomach or when you are full.
  • If you experience chest pain, excessive sweating, chest discomfort, uneasiness, or shortness of breath, stop your exercise immediately and seek medical advice.

Benefits of Regular Exercise For the Heart

  • Regular exercise leads to fast but controlled heartbeats. This, in turn, causes better blood supply to all organs of the body.
  • Strengthens the muscles of the heart and the body.
  • Controls pre-existing hypertension and diabetes and prevents new disorders.
  • Boosts HDL cholesterol and reduces LDL cholesterol.
  • Ensures quality sleep and reduces stress.
  • Drives away depression and makes your personality positive and attractive.
  • Boosts self-confidence.

Precautions to Prevent Heart Disorders

  • Exercise in an adequate proportion regularly, but take advice from a medical professional before starting a new exercise regimen.
  • Eat adequate and nutritious food on time. This diet must have an element of diversity and include green, leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, cereals, fish, nuts, and fatty meat. The consumption of red meat, saturated fats and sugar must be minimized.
  • Avoid mental stress. Use various mediums of entertainment and spirituality to destress and divert your mind.
  • Keep away from smoking.
  • Intake of liquor must be minimized.
  • Sleep for at least six to eight hours at night.
  • Take regular medication. to keep high blood pressure, diabetes, and a rise in LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in control.
  • Undergo routine health check-ups after the age of 25.
  • Perform Yoga and Pranayama regularly.

These measures will help maintain your heart health and prevent any cardiac ailments from afflicting you.

Regular and proper exercise, freedom from mental stress, adequate sleep, a well-rounded and nutritious diet and a positive approach are the secret to a long and healthy life. Like the parts of a machine that need to be oiled for their optimum performance, exercise is the lubricant for our body and heart and for ensuring good health.

To read more English blogs, please visit our blog section.

Dr Ajay Mahajan

The author is an experienced heart specialist.

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