How many times have you struggled to work through just one more mile on the track or make just a few more reps at the gym? Working out requires a constant self reassessment of your capabilities and boundaries, and it can sometimes be difficult to see where the line falls. Are you letting yourself breeze through easy workouts? Or worse – is your fitness craze pushing you to risk your health for the sake of one more mile, one more rep?
Contrary to popular belief, working out doesn’t need to be painful; in fact, it shouldn’t be. Pushing yourself beyond your capabilities can lead to serious consequences such as adrenal fatigue, exhaustion, injury, and even mental burnout. Take care of your body! If you start experiencing any of the below, you should reassess your workout intensity and consult a doctor to make sure that your trips to the gym aren’t hurting your health.
As Dr. Jim Pivarnik, a professor of kinesiology at Michigan State University, commented in an article on the subject: “Being in peak condition is one step before dropping off the cliff to problems.” Your workouts should push you – but they should never, ever exhaust you. If you feel as though you can’t perform basic daily tasks or socially engage after a trip to the gym, you’re probably pushing yourself too hard. Left unchecked, workout fatigue can have serious emotional consequences such as depression, sleep irregularity, and irritability. A workout isn’t worth your mental health!
Elevated Resting Heart Rate
Your heart rate might tick up after your third cup of coffee or during a horror movie, but it shouldn’t stay elevated throughout the day. Having an elevated heart rate is completely normal during a trip to the gym, but you should consult a physician if you notice the fast beat continuing after you leave. Without proper rest and replenishment, over-exercising can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances – both of which can contribute to an unusual increase in heart rate.
We all expect to be sore now and again – but pain should never be considered as a “price” to pay for physical fitness. If your body always feels sore, you aren’t giving it enough time to recover between workouts. Rest days are vital to overall fitness; you need to give your nervous system and muscles the nutrients and time they need to strengthen. Try scaling back your high-intensity workouts to twice a week, and stagger lower-intensity workouts in between. Don’t forget to give yourself a rest day now and again! Eat well, hydrate, relax – and take the time to enjoy your time away from the gym.
By the end of February, your New Year’s resolution to work out has well and truly faded into distant memory. At the beginning of the year, you were determined that this year was going to be the start of your fitness revolution; that you would evolve into the healthiest and most gung-ho version of yourself. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be happening. The gym membership you bought in January has been wallowing, unused, for weeks. Briefly, you consider building your own home gym – after all, wouldn’t exercising at home be easier than schlepping to the local YMCA three times a week?
Maybe – or maybe not.
For some people, working out at home can seem like a relaxed alternative to investing in a gym membership. However, home gym might not be the ideal solution they appear to be – and ultimately, the choice between the two will fall to your preferences and priorities. Here, I break down the pros and cons of each.
Gyms come in all sizes and cater to interests spanning the gamut from barre to crossfit. If you’ve only recently decided to get fit and aren’t quite sure where to start, you should consider purchasing a membership at your local YMCA or Planet Fitness, which offer community access to basic cardio and weight equipment at a reasonable rate.
Gyms have their perks. Compared to the upfront costs inherent in setting up a home gym, community organizations like the ones mentioned above are downright affordable. A membership with Planet Fitness, for example, will only cost you $20 per month. These places often have trainers on-hand to step in if anyone needs help with a piece of equipment or guidance with their workout routine. Moreover, public gyms are motivational by nature; no one wants to look lazy when everyone around them is putting in their best effort.
The expense of a gym membership can be an unneeded monthly drain on your wallet, especially if you don’t go enough to make the expense worth your budgetary while. Absenteeism is a also real problem; people who are unable or unwilling to make the logistics of driving to the gym, finding parking, and dealing with scheduling conflicts work are unlikely to make regular use of a membership.
What constitutes a “home gym?” Do a few hand weights, a yoga mat, and a medicine ball suffice, or do you need a fully-equipped room with cardio equipment and a weight bench? The former might work for some, but let’s assume the latter for the purposes of this post.
A home gym will always be readily accessible and private. If you want to blast music on the elliptical at 2AM, you can – although your neighbors might not thank you! You also have no excuse for not regularly exercising, since your fitness equipment is only ever a few steps away when you come home after work. These home gyms are great for those who are uncomfortable with their body and want the security of working out privately. Although the initial cost of purchasing equipment is high, a decent home gym may add up to less than the accumulated cost of a gym membership over time.
As mentioned above, the investment cost of building a private gym is hefty – especially if you plan to buy high-quality and long-lasting equipment. This, of course, is only an option for those who have the space and the right to build a home gym; renters might be out of luck. Moreover, having your workout equipment in your home might not be as motivational as it seems. After all, what do you really want to do after a long day – work out, or sit on the couch with your dog and a bag of potato chips? Distractions abound at home, so you should probably opt for the gym unless you truly have the motivation to hit the treadmill after work.
About Robert J. Winn
Robert J. Winn is a family physician based in Philadelphia, PA. For over fifteen years Dr. Winn has worked to provide care to vulnerable populations that face barriers to healthcare access. As a medical professional, Dr. Winn understands how important fitness is to one’s health. On a personal level, he also understands what it’s like to be overweight, so he is able to empathize with patients who struggle to live healthier lives.
Robert J. Winn’s fitness journey started relatively later in life. Although he helped other people become healthy and stay that way, Dr. Winn had fallen victim to a situation that many busy professionals find themselves in. At age 45 he was overweight and didn’t make time for daily exercise. Toward the end of 2014, Dr. Winn realized that something had to change. He had trouble fitting into the clothes he owned, and activities like walking up a flight of stairs exhausted him. Dr. Winn made the decision to turn his health around by devoting himself to fitness.
One of the most important aspects of being a physician is making sure that patients are taking the necessary steps to remain healthy. However, Dr. Winn was not following his own recommendations. In order to remedy this situation, he joined Unite Fitness, a local fitness studio. The Unite Fitness philosophy of “Heart, Muscle, Mind” resonated with Dr. Winn. With the help of Coach Gavin, the founder of the studio, Dr. Winn was able to shed 50 pounds over the course of six months.
Although Robert J. Winn started his fitness journey by attending a fitness studio and receiving instruction from the staff, he realizes that many people, including the majority of his patients, may not have the resources to purchase a membership or home fitness equipment. It’s important to remember, though, that getting in shape does not have to cost an exorbitant amount of money. In fact, you don’t have to join a gym or purchase anything to get started. Dr. Robert J. Winn recommends that patients begin by walking 30 minutes each day. Also, on the internet, you can find numerous free resources like exercise tips and guides that you can use to workout at home in your living room.
One way that Dr. Winn stayed motivated in the beginning of his fitness journey was by sharing updates on social media. His friends and family saw his progress and encouraged him along the way. Plus, patients were able to witness the transformation take place firsthand. As a result, many patients were inspired to get in shape themselves. Sharing his fitness journey on social media also encouraged Dr. Winn to work harder to lose weight because he didn’t want to let his patients down. He wanted to show them that it was possible for anyone to get in shape and become healthier as long as they are dedicated and work hard.
Being overweight leads to many health issues such as depression, high cholesterol, and diabetes just to name a few. Exercising on a daily basis can prevent or eliminate these types of difficulties. Dr. Robert J. Winn uses his personal fitness journey as an example that patients can relate to. Today he feels stronger, healthier, and happier as a result of his active lifestyle and healthy diet. He continues to encourage his patients to take small fitness steps so that they can live life to the fullest with fewer health issues holding them back.