I have recently come to the conclusion that exercise can be very bad for you. Now before the howls of protest extolling the variety of various virtues for your heart, lungs and bum (probably) become deafening, I have very good (read: not-overly scientific) reasons to believe such a statement.
One, there has been lots of stories in the media about it lately so it must be true. Two, one of my friends recently broke her knee-cap during “depletion” training held on a bitumen car-park – ouch times three million. And three, before the Commando popped up on The Biggest Loser a few years back, I don’t recall there being any demand whatsoever for military-style training outside of, well, the military because you know they are solders who actually need to know how to crawl through mud and possibly jump over walls and whatnot.
My friend’s abhorrent injury and a recognition that after 20 years of hard-core exercise I might slow down a tad and stick to yoga, power-walking, and maybe some light weights now and then, are only part of the reason why I believe this mantra to be true.
The other day I read two articles, on the same day and I wasn’t even looking that hard to find them, about the fact that excessive exercise can do more harm than good. And those huge PT-classes that now clog our parks every night of the week and wake us up far too early on Saturday mornings are actually an impending portent of doom – or something very similar to that.
The first story admitted that for the most part, exercise is an elixir for health but you have to know your limits. Seemingly if you want to look really, really old well before your time, don’t become a marathon runner because long-term excessive exercise can hasten ageing.
According to doctors, this can be the knock-on effect of putting your body under extreme stress by doing high-level exercise. You can also add to that free radical damage, ongoing sun exposure and a high-protein diet which often goes with excessive exercise, and men and women who exercise intensely over a long period do age faster.
Well, if that wasn’t enough to convince me that yoga was more my pace than some ridiculously over-the-top obstacle course where perhaps you have to leap-frog uranium-filled tanks and skip blindfolded through the carcasses of burning horse testicles, another article soon confirmed my suspicions and also aroused my deep-seated, but mostly covert, snobbery.
According to a number of high-profile personal trainers, public personal training is embarrassingly “middle classâ€ and some of the larger PT classes may be downright dangerous.
According to the story, like all services and industries, the levels of skill, expertise and experience can vary wildly, colouring client perceptions of the profession as a whole. And one experienced trainer admitted that there has to be a limit when it comes to PT class sizes, otherwise the potential for injury was very real indeed.
My friend’s injury, which was a whisper away from surgery and 12-months rehabilitation, allegedly involved a gym class that was unexpectedly moved outdoors, a large group of reportedly exhausted participants who in the last 10 minutes of their class were reportedly supposed to “deplete” every last ounce of their energy.
My friend, who is 49 and fit, was so bone-tired that she tripped during the start of a race against a male participant and her body, specifically her knee, slammed full-force into the bitumen. She is now in a full-leg brace, a heck of a lot of pain, and likely to be dependent on her family and friends for months to just have a shower. In fact, it is the loss of her independence that hurts her the most.
To my mind she has certainly been impacted by a reverse-Commando Effect, but unfortunately for the worse not for the better. When she is all healed, I’ve told her I am taking her to yoga again and then maybe for a brisk, light walk. Then we’ll sit across from the park, drinking a skinny latte, and watch as everyone else, pack-like, sweats their balls (and breasts) off in a vain bid to be the strongest and the fittest one of them all. Who knew I was such a proponent of moderation?