Like every year, 2018 has seen an increase in gym-goers, as the new lifestyle trend is to flaunt a fit and lean body. To achieve the envisioned goal, people are willing to push themselves to the ultimate limit. With unfamiliarity about how the body adapts to these changes, many a times people are faced with unwarranted health issues.
Moderate, regular exercising is beneficial and gives your heart a means to work more efficiently, however, working your heart too hard, or strenuously, can be dangerous.
While performing cardio routines, the blood flow is directed towards the working muscles only and not to the areas that are not doing much (E.g. arms while running).
Hence, blood flow increases causing increased blood volume in the heart. As the blood volume registered to the heart increases, the left ventricle adapts and thus enlarges. Since the larger cavity can no longer withstand more blood, it ejects more blood per beat. There is an increase in blood pressure to the rest of the body, thus causing the heart to fight against a stronger force to push blood out
Excessive workouts for over an hour causes heart tissues to stretch, the heart is unable to pump enough of blood to the body. Vigorous and un-monitored workouts can lead to short-term risks of heart attacks or cardiac arrest. Other effects include chest pain, light-headedness, shortness of breath and even heart palpitations
If one is an avid gym-goer and performs high intensity and rigorous workout, it is important to consult your doctor at regular intervals and seek appropriate therapy.
In regards to taking care of your heart, it is advisable to follow these measures:
- Undergo an Exercise Stress Echo (ESE) or ECG before enrolling for a workout program. A 2D Echo should also be undertaken before joining a rigorous course
- Avoid performing workouts in extreme temperatures, that is in excessive heat or extreme cold
- Refrain from performing your workouts on a full tummy. Eat a medium meal/snack at least an hour prior to your workout. Best meal/snack options can be recommended by a nutritionist
- Make sure to report any kinds of symptoms that might occur while exercising; especially, frequent bouts of breathlessness and fatigue. Recurrent chest pains can indicate and lead to coronary heart disease, thus one must consult an expert in such cases, without wasting any time
- Maintain a frequency in regards to extreme Isometric Exercises (contractions of a particular group of muscles). While this will allow you to build muscle; overtime, it can have adverse effects of the body. Constant weightlifting without rest intervals can cause stress to the heart.
- Along with physical training, one should maintain a balance through holistic or mental drills such as practicing Yoga or meditation.
The author is an Interventional Cardiologist at Fortis Hospital, Kalyan