We all want to be in better shape. The media is constantly throwing out images of perfect looking people with sculpted abs and toned limbs which can make just about anyone feel inadequate. Because of this, pretty much everyone has a desire to start working out and get fit. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing! Exercise has a lot of different benefits. Not only does is make you healthier as well as improving your self-esteem and body image, but it can also help you feel better in general. Exercise is often used as a treatment for things like depression and anxiety since it releases many positive chemicals into your brain. But that doesn’t mean that it’s entirely positive. As with just about everything, if you’re not careful exercise can end up leading to some dark, and potentially dangerous places. To help you avoid that, here are some ways in which the desire for a new body can turn dangerous.

Overexercising

We all know the phrase “no pain no gain!” And yet, how often do you actually stop and think about it. What is pain exactly? Well, simply put it’s your body’s way of telling your brain that something is wrong. You put your hand on a hot stove; your hand tells your brain that it’s in pain, you pull your hand off the stove. So why then do we feel that pain is a good sign when we’re exercising? Well, most of the time it’s because of assumptions that we’re fed by other people. In reality, there’s a big difference between pushing yourself to your limit and pushing yourself past your limit to the point where you end up hurting yourself. Exercising too much can not only be counterproductive to your desire to get in shape, but it can also result in serious long-term injuries. It’s very easy to push yourself too hard when you feel like you should be making more progress that you already are. However, it’s important to be patient and understand that your body needs time to adjust to your new fitness routine. As you work out more and more, you’ll be able to push yourself that little bit harder each time, but going too far before you’re ready can be incredibly dangerous.

Substance abuse

Everybody wants shortcuts in life. It’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of trying to find ways around actually putting in the hard work that’s required of most important things. Exercise is no exception to this. People are constantly trying to find ways to get fit without having to put in the time or effort in. At best you can end up shelling out money for expensive equipment that you don’t need but, at worst, you could end up doing something far more harmful. The use of things like steroids to bulk up is an incredibly dangerous, yet surprisingly common practice among people who want to look a certain way without having to put in the standard amount of work. Anabolic steroids might help you bulk up, but they can also result in kidney and liver damage, increased blood pressure, and a higher risk of a stroke or heart attack. There are supplements out there that aren’t as harmful; you can find a list of some of them on this site. But it’s crucial that you do your research carefully and never take any kind of medication that hasn’t been approved and prescribed by a medical professional.

Dysmorphia

female bodybuilding

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When people think of body dysmorphia, they usually think of young girls starving themselves in an effort to look like runway models. However, dysmorphia can affect a lot of different types of people and those who become fixated on working out are some of the more common victims. Muscle dysmorphia is becoming more and more common among young men in gyms all around the world. These are men who are constantly pushing themselves to achieve a specific look, even if it’s not healthy. A lot of the time these men look in the mirror and can’t see what they really look like, only seeing themselves as too small, too fat, etc. There is help out there for people suffering from this dysmorphia, but modern gym culture runs a constant risk of seeming to approve of this kind of thinking.

These kinds of things are incredibly serious, and if you’re worried about them, then it’s important that you speak to someone qualified. Your doctor should be able to guide you in the right direction whether that’s physical therapy, addiction counseling or psychotherapy. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help if you need it. Hopefully, by becoming more aware of these risks, you are going to be much more well-armed to avoid them. That way you can keep exercise as a positive and useful part of your daily life.