Last Updated on April 28, 2017 by Michael Brockbank
How often have you pushed yourself to “feel the burn?” Is pushing yourself hard enough to pass out the right way to exercise? Not really. In fact, it could have an adverse effect on your health. In my case, it was pushing myself to diabetic shock. Exhausting yourself is not necessarily a good thing.
How Exhausting Yourself is Bad for You
Pushing yourself doesn’t mean you need to pass out while trying to accomplish a feat. For example, I tend to get shaky, cold and find it hard to concentrate as my blood sugar levels drop sharply during a 40 minute workout. This is the beginnings of hypoglycemic shock.
In one particular article, I read how runners who push themselves too hard were more likely to develop fibrosis or have scarring of heart tissue. Unfortunately, I am unable to find the actual study the author was referring to. However, based on personal experience, I can see how this would be an issue. And, I found plenty other evidence to suggest exhausting yourself is bad from a physical perspective.
Many experts believe that exercising should energize you, not be exhausting. You may feel a kind of happiness when working out and enjoy yourself immensely. This is because of the way your body produces endorphins during prolonged exercise. You’ve probably heard of a “runner’s high.” It’s when an athlete pushes themselves to the point of feeling euphoric. It’s much like being on opioids, but in a natural way.
Lack of Motor Control
When you push yourself too far, you begin to lose motor control. This happens as your muscles are no longer able to respond to the impulses from the brain because the energy simply isn’t there. After exhausting yourself to the point where you cannot control your body, even the most mundane of activities can be dangerous.
This is why some cities will cite you for driving while extremely exhausted like they would if you were drunk. The effects are often similar.
Depleting Yourself Forces the Body to Work Harder
Exhausting yourself forces your internal organs to go into overdrive. As they try to recuperate from the excessive amount of activity, various areas will become cannibalized. This is especially apparent if you are on a low-protein diet. Muscles will begin to atrophy as your energy levels sink like a stone in a pond while the body pulls elements from other parts to continue functioning.
According to Time Magazine, a 12-year study demonstrated how vigorous running routines were not much better for the heart as those who led a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, those who ran at a fast pace between 2.5 and four hours per week were at a higher mortality rate.
One study shows how those who walk or run throughout the week were less likely to suffer cardiac episodes. However, those who ran excessively actually increased the risk of suffering a heart attack. This means that running more than 30 miles per week may actually cause more harm than good.
In reality, you don’t need to be diagnosed as diabetic to have experience hypoglycemia. This happens when the blood sugar levels of an individual drop too low for the body to accommodate. As a result, your body would have an excess of insulin. This is something I am prone to experience, especially when I approach exhausting myself during a workout.
The hardest part is figuring out when you’re at that point before you start feeling “funny.” One day I was working out at the gym and I started getting dizzy. It was hard to breath and I couldn’t concentrate. I started shaking as I realized I was in some sad shape. After this had happened a couple of times, I started taking a breakfast bar with me to the gym. Problem solved as I increased my sugar intake. Gatorade and orange juice are also helpful.
These episodes happen extremely quickly. I experience it usually without any forewarning. Now, I regulate my sugar intake especially on days that I know I’ll be exercising.
Anyway, anyone can show signs of hypoglycemia without actually being diabetic. You’ve probably seen those Snickers commercials of being angry because you’re hungry. Yes…being hangry is a symptom of blood sugar levels being too low.
Why is knowing this important for exercise? Because the body will deplete nutrients while you work out. The more depleted it becomes, the more likely you may have an episode of hypoglycemia.
How Long Should You Exercise For?
Everyone’s physiology is different. Meaning what works for one person may not work for another. Knowing the perfect amount of exercise for you depends on several factors like:
- Current diet: What you eat will play a role in energy levels for any activity.
- Current physique: Your physical condition dictates just how far you can push yourself.
- Sleep patterns: Yes, sleep contributes to more than just being alert. Mix physical and mental stress together and it could be extremely exhausting.
- Overall lifestyle: Things like career, how long you sit in a day and many other facets of your day-to-day life contribute to how you should exercise.
Take me, for example. Because I sit at my desk close to 16 hours per day because of work and play, I try to break exercise up. For instance, I like to walk between 1.2 and two miles in the morning to “wake me up.” Then, I’ll either walk or do a 20-minute cardio exercise routine after lunch. This has helped because my eyes get tired of looking at the computer screen.
Lately, I’ve added a bit of yoga a few times per week at the end of the night to help me relax and sleep better. And, I’ve noticed a bit of a difference the last few days by increasing my water intake.
I like to drive myself to a nice sweat. The point where you’re on the verge of being soaked and feel pretty good about yourself. That’s when I stop and call it a good day.
Just because you’re tethered to a desk doesn’t mean you can break the day up with a bit of physical activity.
It all boils down to being sensible.
Pushing to achieve goals is one thing. But trying to accomplish too much, especially when your body is not capable, will do nothing but make yourself feel knackered. Work up a nice sweat, but don’t push yourself to the point where you collapse. Depending on your condition, you may not get up.