Fit. But not so fine
Endorphins. That’s what gets us hooked. It give us a happy high which researchers have likened to one produced by other opioids. A reason why many people get hooked to their exercise routine – the most popular way to get your daily fix of endorphins. But now the bad news: your daily exercise might just be making you sad.A recent US study published in The Lancet Psychiatry Journal found that too much physical activity could have a negative impact on mental health. Being active for 30 to 60 minutes every second day is the optimum amount, according to the study led by Dr Adam Chekroud, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University. People who did no physical activity said that they had 3.4 “bad days” in a month, while those who worked out regularly felt low for two days. Here’s the burn: People who exercised more than 90 minutes at a time suffered on average an extra one poor mental health day a month than those who did 45-minute sessions. “Exercising more than 23 times a month, or exercising for longer than 90-minute sessions, is associated with worse mental health,” said Chekroud. The reasons could be anything from taxing your body or feeling burned out. It’s time to slow down.
We live in a world where fitness is hashtagged to help you find your social media inspiration or validation – depending on what you are seeking. A time when WOD (Workout of the Day) has actually become an accepted acronym like OOTD (Outfit of the Day), making fitness the new fashion. Sports challenges like #plankchallenge, etc bring with it its own kind of pressure to belong. Sports performance specialist Deckline Leitao wants to fight the glorification of fitness. “There is no doubt that a lot of wrong signals are sent out to the general public that there is some virtue in pushing the body beyond its normal capacity. This is especially true in the Indian psychological context, where hard work is equated to success, like studying for long hours,” Leitao says.
Leitao says that it’s not long before people are caught up in the law of diminishing returns. Result? There are probably more people working out harder today but also more people who are not seeing any results beyond a certain point. He feels that fitness has become comical, where a lot of people seem to be only interested in posting a video of themselves on social media doing some fancy move.
The celeb fitness craze
Fitness instructor and marketing head Amisha Sethi is not a fan of using social media to keep posting your fitness milestones. “It does give a spontaneous kick when people like your fitness achievements, but it also gives you unnecessary stress to maintain it. You are also unintentionally inciting others to think that exercising more is the way. After all, social media is full boasts of running marathons, cycling for miles,” she says.
Clinical psychologist Jaya Sukul mentions that while the correlation between a healthy mind and a well-exercised body is undeniable, often we don’t pay attention to the kind of exercise we do. She explains, “If we over exert our body, instead of releasing endorphins, our muscles go into fatigue and distress.”
Exercise isn’t one size fits all
According to Chekroud’s study, team sports, cycling and aerobics had the greatest positive impact on mental health, apart from household physical activity – from finishing chores to looking
after children etc. These had favourable effects on the mind too.
But exercise is not one size fits all. Delhi-based senior orthopaedic surgeon Dr RK Pandey says, “What people need to brush up on is whether vigorous-intensity exercises suits them, even if they are alternating between moderate and high-intensity.”
Pandey has seen a rise in cases with workout related complications, probably getting carried away by success stories. Leitao says, “Professional sportspersons practise up to 5 hours a day, but they do so to win medals. The regular office goer, housewife or student will do much better on a shorter, structured and systematic routine.”
KNOW WHEN TO STOP
Sukul says that exercising stops working for you the moment it becomes a matter of stress. The feel-good factor of fitness should remain in your workout. Sethi says that overdoing workouts can lead to diminished strength, disinterest in exercises, fatigue, overeating. “It’s your body’s way of trying to tell you, please stop. Interestingly, those same stress hormones you release when you’re emotionally stressed are also released when you’re physically over exercised,” she adds.
Medically, it’s advised to advance slowly in your workout. Overtraining has a knack for spiralling into a dark place. Go back to basics: that is listen to your body. And your mind too.
We have to understand that a positive aspect like exercise too can become a negative addiction just like maintaining cleanliness or planning – if overdone
– Deckline Leitao, sports
Are you over exercising?
If you say ‘yes’ to 3 out of 7 of these, you need to tone it down
Exercise leaves you exhausted instead of energised You get sick easily (or it takes forever to get over a cold) You have the blues You’re unable to sleep or you can’t seem to get enough sleep You have ‘heavy’ legs You have a short fuse You are sore for days at a time-Source: mercola.com
When fitness goes viral
#fitnesschallenge 573,848 posts
The umbrella term fitness challenge has the maximum number of posts on Insta.
#humfittohindiafit 70,524 posts
Started by sports minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, the challenge had videos from PM Narendra Modi himself.
Other challenges: #plankchallenge 135,573 posts; #pushupchallenge 127,954 posts; #squatchallenge 340,903 posts; #burpeechallenge 33,076 posts
“People need to remember that technology might have made cars, trains, phones, etc very different in the last 40 years but the human body has been in existence for centuries and sticking with simple effective movements is more likely to keep you fit and healthy than trying some fancy exercises that only look impressive.”
– Deckline Leitao
Is there an ideal workout?
Just like a balanced diet, an average person’s exercise regimen should also be balanced with an equal amount of strength training, cardiovascular fitness and flexibility. For instance, an hour of exercise every day could include 20 minutes of strength building, followed by 20 minutes of cardiovascular exercise such as cycling or jogging followed by 20 minutes of stretching right. A good rule of thumb is that the routine you follow should make you feel energised and invigorated when you wake up.
There are certain exercises which can be labelled as ‘perfect’ only because they are more natural to bodily systems and use our own stored energy. These are cardiovascular exercises and exercises like body stretches, floor exercises and yoga.