We all know that exercise is good for us. There’s a multi-million-dollar fitness industry out there to prove it, and most of us know at least one person who seems to spend their entire life in the gym. The benefits of a bit of exercise and the dangers that can come from being a couch potato are so well known, and so undeniable, that most of us are easily motivated by guilt into going out an occasional jog round the park, at least every once in a while.
Hardly anybody ever mentions the dangers of exercise, though, but they do exist. People can get hooked on the adrenaline and the endorphins involved, and then cause some real damage to their system just by overdoing it.
Don’t Overdo It
If you exercise for two hours or more on a regular basis, you run the risk of creating a whole range of health problems, including suffering from poor sleep, loss of libido, irritability and depression. It’s also possible to cause damage to the immune system, or to create abnormal heart rhythms, or even the worryingly named Leaky Gut Syndrome – in which the lining of your gut thins to the point that it allows bacteria to enter the bloodstream. That’s definitely something you’ll want to avoid, since it’s thought to be a factor in causing Multiple Sclerosis and numerous other diseases.
Then there’s the back. It’s thought that over 75% of Americans will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Of course, not all of this results from exercise, and backs are notoriously easy to damage in any case. Still, the fact remains that all the staple routines of the gym – squats, sit-ups, pushups, crunches, twists, planks and working out with weights – can all damage your spine, and even pull it out of alignment.
Of course, ironically you can also damage your back by doing absolutely no exercise at all, by being a couch potato – if it’s the wrong kind of couch, that is. That soft and squishy sofa in the store window may look luxuriously inviting, and just the thing for an evening relaxing with Netflix, but it could create a back problem for you – or make an existing one worse than it already is. Something that’s a lot firmer may look more uncomfortable, but it’ll give your back the support it really craves and needs.
Most of the thinking about ergonomic seating design has so far concentrated on office chairs rather than sofas for the home. Fortunately, there are a few people that have been focusing on this. A high-end Norwegian furniture design company called Ekornes has a furniture line called Stressless that includes leather chairs and low back sofas and recliners. These are thought by some to be particularly good for lower back problems, as they allow the body to stretch out full-length, while also supporting the neck and the lumbar region of the back.
Even so, if you really want to be kind to your back, you should get up and walk around every once in a while. Just don’t overdo it.