In general, the doctor says, it is important to get a medical opinion before setting off on a journey to challenge your physical limits.

Being fit is good but overexertion can lead to complications warn experts
Health Health Wednesday, May 09, 2018 - 20:13

Working hard for the ‘perfect body’ has become a bit of a fad among several people. But while physical exercise is good – how much is too much? And what happens when you exert yourself without understanding your body’s limits?

In the case of Swaroop Mittapalli, a 29-year-old Assistant Director in films, overexertion led to a heart transplant. Swaroop was a fitness fanatic; in February last year, he reportedly exercised for several hours a day, and went on a crash diet of just fruits and vegetables. He developed a rare condition called Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection (SCAD), which led to blood clots in his heart. Swaroop had a cardiac arrest and a stent was placed in his heart.

However, his heart had been damaged beyond recovery and a heart transplant was the only remaining option.

Experts say that while SCAD is rare, overexertion without understanding your body can lead to several medical complications.

Dr Vivek Jawali, Chief Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgeon, Department of Cardiovascular Sciences, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru said, “Though SCAD is very rare, when it occurs it is a medical emergency and needs immediate intervention. The tricky thing about SCAD is that it has been found to occur in people who are physically very fit and have no history of any cardiac problems.”  

Underlying medical conditions that one may or may not be aware of, Dr Vivek says, could also lead to a risk of developing SCAD.

In general, the doctor says, it is important to get a medical opinion before setting off on a journey to challenge your physical limits. “Be it a very long marathon or intense bouts of exercises every day, always take a medical opinion and then start off. Do not, on a whim, register yourself to physically demanding tasks like a marathon. All these require thorough preparation and guidance. Most people do not do that, and they exert themselves beyond what their body can do,” Dr Vivek says.

Without training, various injuries are also likely, experts warn. “Most of the people who run a marathon are not trained. They are at a risk for various injuries. Ligament tear, muscle pull, broken bones, stress fractures can happen. It is recommended to undergo training at least three weeks before a 10km marathon and three months before a full marathon,” Dr Chirag Thonse, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Specialist in Arthroscopy, Sports injuries and Joint Replacement Surgeries, Fortis Hospitals, Bengaluru, said.

Elaborating on sports injuries that people sustain Dr Chirag said, “In the last 5 years I have seen an exponential increase in the number of sports injuries. It is not that professional sportsmen have increased, but it is always the “weekend sportsmen” whose numbers have come up.”

Endurance levels are very subjective, Dr Chirag says, and therefore physical activities should be done according to one’s personal capabilities.

Prakash Jay, Founder of FitDrome and pan India administrator and franchisee coordinator of CHISEL Fitness LLP, said, “Assessment is very important before starting any training. It is done on body composition, cardio, core, strength, flexibility and balance. This gives an idea of the benchmark of the person, how much they can exert and how their fitness is currently.”

Prakash made an observation that with the rise of online access to health supplements, several young people are misusing them. Purely based on online reviews, these health supplements are bought and no consultations are made with any health professionals regarding its usage. He warned that this can have dire consequences for heart and kidney. He remarked that people are misinformed about various exercises and diet regimes because they get all their information from Google.

Prakash stressed on overexertion and said, “Body requires protein to recover from your previous workout. You need time to recover from your previous workout. If you are not paying attention to all these, your body will collapse sooner or later. You are adding stress over stress to your body by not providing enough nutrition but exerting yourself through overtraining.”

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