The only good excuses not to exercise

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We all know exercise is the key to good health.  We’re told that half an hour of solid daily exercise – at least – is vital for our health and our fitness.  But in reality, there are times when exercise might not be such a good idea and could even make you unwell.   This isn’t a hall pass to get lazy, but there are times when it isn’t always the best thing, even if that means skipping the gym once in a while, listen to the signs and what your body is telling you. 

You’re Sleep Deprived 

It’s true that exercising will often help to make you feel more energised, and this can be great if you’re just feeling a little sleepy or you’ve been working hard and need to shake things up a bit.

Associate Professor Jean-François Perrier from the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology at the University of Copenhagen spearheaded research mapping the mechanism that prompts central fatigue.  Central fatigue is a phenomenon which has been known for about 80 years; it is a sort of tiredness which, instead of affecting the muscles, hits the brain and nervous system.   By conducting scientific experiments, it is possible to observe and measure that the brain sends insufficient signals to the muscles to keep going, which in turn means that we are unable to keep performing.

“Our discovery is helping to shed light on the paradox which has long been the subject of discussion by researchers. We have always known that the neurotransmitter serotonin is released when you exercise, and indeed, it helps us to keep going.  However, the answer to what role the substance plays in relation to the fact that we also feel so exhausted we have to stop has been eluding us for years. We can now see it is actually a surplus of serotonin that triggers a braking mechanism in the brain. In other words, serotonin functions as an accelerator but also as a brake when the strain becomes excessive,” .   Professor Perrier’s research has been instrumental in understanding the mechanisms at play in athletes who are doping.

You’re Sick 

If you have a fever, this is your body fighting off some kind of sickness. Your body needs all its energy to do this, redirecting that anabolic energy into a workout, takes away from the immune system.  This can be dangerous for a person with a heart condition.  Blood glucose levels in someone with Diabetes would need to watched closely, especially if there is inadequate food and drink consumption, as being ill may raise glucose levels and exercise may lower them causing rapid imbalances.

Arrhythmogenic ventricular cardiomyopathy (AVC) is the most common heart condition that causes sudden cardiac death during intense exercise.  The cells in the heart wall are stacked in interlocking layers like bricks in a brick wall. They are attached to each other by links called desmosomes that dot the surface of the cells.  Exercise can overstretch the heart wall, but these links keep the cells from disconnecting from each other and the heart wall from coming apart.

If you have any kind of pain or injury, this is another indication not to work out.  Again, your body has to have the time and energy it needs to heal, and exercise will only make things worse no matter how much you might want to do it.  Remember, if the pain is in your chest, then you must get checked out at right away, and definitely don’t put any additional strain on your heart through exercise.  A general rule is that it’s okay to exercise if your symptoms are above the neck, such as a sore throat or runny nose.

You’re Sunburnt 

Getting very badly sunburnt is something we must all avoid as much as possible – the UV rays from the sun can cause skin cancer, and even if that isn’t the outcome, having a sunburn is incredibly painful. You might even have to take some time off work to recover. Sunburn is just the same as any other burn and shouldn’t be treated any less seriously. 

If you are sunburnt, working out is a bad idea. Your skin – and potentially your body – will be dehydrated and will need to work at replenishing its fluids. You can help this process by drinking plenty of water and perhaps adding some sports drinks that include electrolytes to the menu. The last thing you should be doing is working out and sweating, which will dehydrate you even more. 

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