With physical inactivity classified as a global public health problem by the World Health Organization, much health advice is geared towards encouraging people to increase their activity levels and engage in more physical exercise. Of course, there is more to staying healthy than exercise, and balance is the key to ensuring a healthy and happy life.
Indeed, those who enjoy high levels of activity and work hard towards their fitness goals may be more at risk of some health complaints than those who exercise less frequently. If you’re an avid trainer, whatever sport you enjoy, it’s worth being aware of some of the health issues that may arise along the way.
Perhaps the most obvious risk for athletes is a sports injury. Whatever exercise you’re doing, it’s crucial to pay attention to your warm-up and cool-down routines to reduce the risk. If you are doing any weightlifting or gymnastic training, it is important to focus on good form and proper technique. But even with this in mind, it’s possible to incur injury. Contact sports carry the risk of collision, which can result in injuries to any body part, including the head. Muscle, ligament and bone injuries (most commonly, stress fractures) can also occur in solitary sports like running, swimming or CrossFit. So it’s important for athletes to pay attention to their bodies’ signs that it may be time for rest.
A commonly overlooked health complaint seen in those who work hard on their fitness is the fungal infection. Fungal infections can range from athletes foot (characterized by an itchy rash, commonly seen between the toes) and fungal nail infections, which are easily spread in locker rooms and showers, to ringworm (manifested as a circular rash on the skin). These conditions thrive in warm, moist environments, which is why they’re so commonly seen amongst athletes.
Research into bacteria by leading companies like Bio-Technical Resources may lead to an increase in bacterial cures for fungal infections, but to prevent the problem from arising, athletes are encouraged to keep their skin clean and dry, and wash and air sports kits – including footwear – frequently.
While regular exercise can promote good respiratory health, respiratory problems are common in top-level athletes. Particularly among endurance athletes, due to frequent and prolonged periods of high ventilation. Strenuous exercise can sometimes result in exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (more commonly known as exercise-induced asthma) in which the airways are narrowed. This is more likely amongst asthma sufferers. But it can occur during activity for any athlete. Those who are prone to it are advised to cover their noses and mouths when exercising during cold weather, and pay attention to their respiratory status during exercise.
Overtraining is a common mistake made by those dedicated to maintaining high levels of fitness and a good physique. It’s important to make rest and recovery days an integral part of your training schedule in order to avoid the symptoms of overtraining, which include reduced sleep quality, mood disturbances, muscle soreness and an elevated resting heart rate. Ultimately, overtraining can lead to poor performance, and can impact on the end goal, so if you’re dedicated to your fitness, adequate rest is essential.
Regular exercise is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. But for those who train regularly and are dedicated to their fitness, it’s important to be aware of conditions that may arise as a result. Being aware of the ailments that can occur allows you to prepare properly and recognize symptoms should they arise. Ultimately allowing you to perform at the optimum level for as long as possible.