In recent years, there have been alarming reports of individuals in apparent good health suffering heart attacks or sudden cardiac deaths while engaged in physical exercise. The seemingly sudden nature of these incidents can be perplexing for the average person. How can someone collapse ‘just like that’ during a workout?
While it is often assumed that excessive exercise is the primary cause, this notion does not tell the whole story. Sudden heart attacks or cardiac deaths during exercise in young individuals may be linked to undiagnosed heart conditions such as HOCM (hypertrophic obstructive cardiomyopathy), dilated cardiomyopathy, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia, valvular heart disease, myocarditis, or the abrupt rupture of an atherosclerotic plaque that went undetected.
Even young individuals without structural heart issues can experience heart attacks due to the rupture of atherosclerotic plaques that develop over years of a sedentary lifestyle and become destabilized during sudden, strenuous physical activities. Scientific research suggests that people who infrequently exercise and suddenly engage in vigorous activities are at a heightened risk of heart-related problems. However, a gradual approach to training and building stamina can reduce the risk by delaying the development of coronary artery plaques.
Incorporating exercises like cycling, swimming, jogging, and brisk walking alongside weight training, which is popular among young adults in gyms, is essential for a well-rounded fitness regimen. Vigorous workouts can be detrimental to an untrained body, so it is advisable to prioritize stamina and strength development before striving for muscular mass. Individuals with a sedentary lifestyle should gradually introduce exercise into their routines.
The benefits of regular exercise extend beyond physical appearance to include reduced body fat percentage, improved body structure, optimized body weight, lower cholesterol levels, and better management of hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Regular exercise can also delay the onset of various diseases that might otherwise affect those who lead sedentary lives. Outdoor activities have demonstrated positive effects on mental well-being, psychological health, and overall quality of life.
Before embarking on extreme sports or intense physical activities, it is crucial to undergo examinations for any underlying structural heart conditions. Even in the absence of such conditions, gradually building an exercise routine and maintaining consistency are vital.
A healthy lifestyle and balanced nutrition are equally important. Exercising after insufficient sleep or under the influence of alcohol can lead to workout injuries. A well-rounded exercise regimen must be complemented by a diet rich in proteins, complex carbohydrates, and essential nutrients for a healthy body and mind.
It is essential to recognize that exercising itself does not cause heart problems or fatalities; it is the combination of vigorous exercise with undiagnosed conditions or an unprepared body that poses risks. Therefore, it is crucial to gradually develop an exercise routine, adhere to it consistently, and pair it with a healthy diet and lifestyle habits.