By Tara Haner
Imagine every muscle in your body shaking with exhaustion, sweat pouring down your back and your lungs threatening to collapse; now wrap your mind around the fact that all that pain and fatigue prolongs your life. The benefits of a healthy workout routine and a healthy lifestyle go far beyond the superficial body image that everyone craves. The lasting benefits of regular exercise and a healthy diet go far beyond the general knowledge of most people. In order to discover your body’s full potential, one must know all the facts.
In general, a teenager should engage in one full hour of aerobic physical activity a day. The more strenuous the activity the less amount of time needed to meet the recommended amount. In reality, one hour is only 4% of your entire day, a completely realistic sacrifice for everyone to make. “I believe I get enough exercise, but in general most teens do not,” senior Alexis Pasik added. On average, 21% of American teenagers are obese; this number has quadrupled from its previous percentages in the last ten years. The highest cause of childhood and young adult obesity is the lack of physical exercise and the excessive intake of calories. In a country so diverse in physical activities to partake in, this statistic is highly capable of decreasing exponentially.
Regular exercise has a vast variety of beneficial qualities that go unknown to most people. A common misconception about working out is that the only benefit of doing so is a toned body; this idea could not be farther from the truth. Upon being asked what they believe the health benefits of regularly exercising are, teenagers most commonly answered getting in shape, staying healthier and living longer. “Exercise helps you to live longer, stay healthier and have a faster metabolism,” Junior Nikki Bean comments. While this is true, those are only a small number of the benefits of working out. Exercise helps you to sleep better, slows the aging process, boosts your immune system, improves your mental state of mind, and reduces the risk of an array of diseases.
Although physical activity seems to have no down side, there are always extremists who corrupt good things: “Get big or die trying,” as Senior Anthony Turnof puts it. Some of the risks to over doing your workouts are pulled or strained muscles, damaging a growth plate, which would cause a stunt in growth, or using too much weight to fast and seriously damaging your bones and joints. Common signs that you are working out too hard are dizziness, trouble breathing or maintaining a conversation, disorientation, or an extreme thirst for water. To avoid injury, correct form should always be maintained and be sure to always listen to your body and know when to stop.
Another possible down fall to becoming a “gym rat” is being lured into the dangerous world of supplements such as anabolic steroids. The desire to become ripped in a short amount of time is common among many people who begin to become obsessed with working out, particularly men. Over 1,000,000 Americans have admitted to using anabolic steroids according to a survey done by The Center for Disease Control. Side effects of this dangerous drug include: high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke, liver disease, some types of cancers, and kidney damage.
Balancing a healthy amount of exercise with a good diet can vastly improve your life in both the short-term and long-term. Just like most things in life, all good things must come in moderation. Yet instead of most things in life, costing you a fortune, exercise is free to all. Who wouldn’t want to live longer and look good doing it?