Is going to Gym good, really?
Misconceptions of the modern mind
I had just recently graduated. And like any male in their early 20’s, going to gym was my craze! I used to spend 2–3 hours every day planning the food and another 2 hours in the gym. There used to be one old poster of arnold schwazzeneger in my room. And in the gym. And in my friends’ room. Actually wherever I go — physically and mentally.
“My god… how will it be.. if i have that body”
I used to dream for years to achieve that body, that perfectness of shape, that symmetry, that bulges. Things that makes people eyebrows extend beyond their foreheads.
In a period of 12 years I have spent more time in the gym than in any temple or church put together. And that I changed few jobs and multiple locations across continents did not really stop me from chasing my dream. That chiseled body! That amorous looks from women! That jealousy from men! I could not just give up that dream.
And to me great body and health were not two different things. Great health should show in your looks, I always assumed. And the kind of things I derived from my heavy duty workouts only re-affirmed my beliefs — the stress relief, the sharpeness of the mind, the ability to push limits etc.
Over a period of time, my body metabolism has changed, my eating habits have changed and the way my body reacts to food has changed. I am really questioning if “going to gym” can be considered good or healthy, something that is assumed, even now. If you go to gym then you are health conscious, or you can really eat anything you want. Because you are paying for your habit by “working” out!
So when my young niece asked this question
is going to gym, good for me?
I could not answer immediately. Such a simple question, should have a simple Yes or No answer right?
A bunch of stories I have heard, things I have learnt about my own body and my own experiences in the gym makes me more sceptical about “working out” than ever before.
- Few months ago SAP India head died of heart attack at age of 42. What more, he worked out 5 days a week, did not drink or smoke. In fact, he just came back from gym before he collapsed. There were different theories on why this happened but one thing was more widespread than others — Lack of sleep. I had a similar incident take place for one of my friends.
- Is that it? If you sleep well and then work out, then Gym is good for you? Wait a minute. Going to the gym could mean multiple things. Walking and running related exercises, strength exercises using body weight, body building related using heavy weights, aerobics, zumba and dance related etc. Each of this, over a period of time, will have different impact on your body. The muscle build, wear and tear all varies. Not understanding how an exercise impacts your body can do more harm to you than you can fathom!
- Pizza, beer, oatmeal, fruits — if eaten in equal calories is the same thing?Identifying all food intake and energy use as calories is a gross simplification of how our body works. More than just calories, what the food does to your body — the source of energy, is really important. Different foods can affect your body hormones in totally different ways. So what do you eat before and after your “workout”?
- Author of the new york best seller “Hooked” — Nir Eyal, talks about how fitness apps ends up making us fat. There is a real risk that you might end up becoming fat as a result of your “work out” time! Understanding how our body and minds work in tandem is important to achieving fitness through any activity.
- Any one who has heard of Cortisol, knows that its a hormone related with stress. And cortisol has capability to reduce testosterone molecules. And hitting the gym with certain pre-conditions can increase cortisol in your blood beyond the acceptable range — something that can cause adverse effects on your body.
Going to gym aka “working out” is not just an activity. Being healthy is not just about hitting the gym every now and then. Its a life style. If it has to positively impact your body, you should control what you eat, hours you sleep, your stress levels and choose an exercise that suits your body type. If you do all these, then “gym is good”. Else it’s effect on your body is as random as a coin toss.