Two Sides of Gym Usage

Although daily exercises are beneficial to the body, there are also avoidable risks to look out for when using the gym

|  By Chinwe Okafor  |  Oct. 28, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

EXERCISES as the experts say strengthen the muscles, optimise the cardiovascular system and aid in controlling body weight. This is why no weight-shedding plan is complete without a regular visit to the gym. Going to gyms has almost become a status symbol for many people who want to shed weight especially for those in the middle-class or rich neighbourhoods. Employers of labour have also made it part of the corporate drive for staff well-being, as many modern offices now come with well-equipped gyms and a stand-by instructor to boot.

Various people have different reasons for using the gym. Some gym users want to lose a few kilogrammes and shape up, while other people especially men simply want to build muscles and some women want to tone up their muscles and shed excess fats which they have gained. Chinazo Okeke, an undergraduate of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, said she visits the gym because she wants to shed weight. “There are no side effects associated with gym because I was able to shed some excess weight which I gained and I’m happy I did that,” she said.

Nwosu
Nwosu

Whatever may be the reason for gym usage,  there are many benefits to be derived from working out regularly. Mike Olaitan, an aerobics instructor and owner of soul and body fitness club in Okota, Lagos State, said that physical exercise improves the mood. He said that engaging in physical activities helps to stimulate various brain chemicals that can leave one happier and more relaxed. He revealed that most Nigerians believe it is only those who are overweight that need to exercise, but that is farther from the truth. He said that keeping fit is a must for everybody and not only for those who want to lose weight like most Nigerians think.

“As a gym owner, I only see a large percentage of people who are overweight coming in to register so that they can shed some fat and look good again. You hardly see a slim Nigerian coming in to register at the gym because they want to keep physically fit but this is very wrong. Physical fitness is all about staying active and keeping your body functioning at a high level. For instance, both aerobic exercise and weight lifting strengthen the immune system and keeps off most disease. Everybody needs to exercise to keep fit and maintain a healthy life,” he said.

Netochi Nwosu, a physiotherapist at Ile-Ife, Osun State, said that exercises can help prevent excess weight gain or help maintain weight loss. “When you engage in physical activity, you burn calories. During these activities, the more intense the activity, the more calories you burn. You don’t need to set aside large chunks of time for exercise to reap weight-loss benefits. If you can’t do an actual workout, get more active throughout the day in simple ways by taking the stairs instead of the elevator. One has to engage in physical exercise to keep the blood flowing smoothly.

“Blood flow decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and helps to prevent or manage a wide range of health problems and concerns, including stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, depression, certain types of cancer and arthritis. The energy boost derivable from exercising is never in doubt and this is because it improves muscle strength and boosts endurance. Exercise and physical activity deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and help the cardiovascular system to work more efficiently. And when your heart and lungs work more efficiently, you have more energy to go about your daily chores,” she said.

Ngozi Okonkwo, another physiotherapist in Ibadan, said that exercises aid deep and refreshing sleep. Apart from the many other benefits one can actually get through visiting the gym, there are dangers to avoid as you hit the gym. She said that germs thrive in the warm, sweaty atmosphere at the gym because many people with different physical issues visit the facility and use the same equipment one after the other.

At the Gym
At the Gym

For this reason, she said that ventilation should be an important thing to check when enrolling in a gym because an air-tight gym is a very likely place to contact air-borne infections such as cold, pulmonary tuberculosis and measles. According to her, one can contract air-borne infections when he or she comes in contact with respiratory droplets from another person. Ironically, these droplets are let off like free radicals through sneezing, coughing, laughing, talking and all other human activities that make the gym a fun place.

“When you exercise rigorously, you will become thirsty, however, sharing cups or using the gym water point can be an avenue for bacterial infection and to avoid such bacteria and virus, one has to have a handy personal water bottle. The nose, ears and mouth are the three openings in the head and as such, they are avenues for bacteria and virus to come in. Gym users should keep their fingers or hands away from the face as much as possible. When you are through with your visit, wash your hands thoroughly and take a soapy bath when you get home because it will not only refresh you, you would also have stopped bacteria and virus from infecting you.”

More so, womenshealthmag.com, an online portal, advocates that antibacterial cleansing agents should be used to clean gym equipment before and after use. It also urged gym users to take care of their wounds by covering it properly with a plaster, so as to prevent germs from gaining ready access through an opening in the skin.

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