Recently someone asked me why I recommend that people exercise considering that exercise is dangerous and can lead to injury or death (they didn’t say it exactly that way, though). I responded that while it is true that exercise could be dangerous, it almost always isn’t and serious complications exceptionally rare. Furthermore, regular exercise actually reduces the risk of heart attack or sudden death and screening prior to starting an exercise program can reduce this risk further.
Then, someone asked me about the “CrossFit syndrome” they saw on the news. At first I had no idea what they were talking about, but in our conversation I figured out that it referred to exertional rhabdomyolysis. This form of severe muscle damage can, rarely, result from extreme exercise and, apparently, this has happened in people doing CrossFit.
But it could result from any overexertion, not just CrossFit and not just exercise. The risk of injury like this can be reduced by starting at a low intensity, progressing gradually, and taking advice from qualified, certified trainers and coaches. Some common sense helps, too: Exercise may cause some muscle soreness, but it shouldn’t hurt.
So, I figured I should write about exercise safety, which I did in my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.