Last decade has seen a phenomenal surge in the number of people who workout and train. Endurance sports i.e. marathons, cycling, running, have become hugely popular. Not only health benefits; but for some adrenaline junkies, the high of crossing a finish line, beating a record, or surpassing a personal goal, is their daily fix. In this race to cross finish lines, people sometimes forget where to draw a line for themselves.
Occasionally we come across sudden deaths in marathons, which are almost always due to preexisting undiagnosed cardiac conditions. Of a common occurrence is “Vasovagal Syncope” (black-out). Simply put, syncope is sudden loss of consciousness caused by reduced blood supply to the brain. Immediate action is to lay the person on a flat surface and elevate lower limbs above the level of the heart. Consciousness is often regained within 5 minutes. In the meantime, never attempt to make the unconscious or semiconscious person drink any fluids as this can be dangerous, fluid may enter windpipe leading to choking.
Often, syncope is preceded by warning signs i.e. light-headedness, sweating, blurred vision. It is prudent not to ignore these symptoms; listening to your body’s needs could end up saving a fall and injury. Stopping activity and lying on a flat surface with your lower limbs placed on the chest wall (fetal position), leads to immediate recovery. Ensure to see your doctor and get full evaluation to rule out any heart problem.
Exercise should make one healthier and happier, but overdoing it could be counter-productive. By setting unrealistic goals, one often sets themselves for failure before even trying. Whilst challenging the body improves performance, problem starts when one pushes beyond limits and ignoring body’s warning signs. There is a desire to achieve too much too soon. Caught up in this whirlpool, runners start piling on the miles and increase pace quickly. Training plans are altered, diet, cross training, rest and recovery are compromised. Human body cannot sustain against such an onslaught for prolonged periods of time. Eventually, it starts to give up, leading to injuries, damage to bone joint muscles, or even worse.
Pushing one’s self beyond the acceptable limits of the body, and training without rest and recovery could lead to “over training syndrome” where all the benefits of exercise cease. Heart rate and blood pressure rise, with deterioration in sports performance, loss of appetite and weight, reduced sleep, chronic fatigue, mood swings and depression, requiring complete stoppage and gradual re-introduction of training. After all, everything in life is good in moderation....