‘January joiners’ face greater risk at gym, experts say

by | Jan 15, 2013 | News

Experts say overexertion can be dangerous if your body isn't used to it. Photo by Amber Daugherty

Experts say overexertion can be dangerous if your body isn’t used to it.
Photo by Amber Daugherty

By Amber Daugherty

New Year’s resolutions are predictable – eat healthier, spend less, save more, and get your beach body ready by summer. But there’s a danger in changing your habits suddenly, especially when it comes to jumping into a high-intensity workout regime, experts say.

“The biggest risk is muscle injury,” Richard Cotton, National Director of Certification at the American College of Sports Medicine, told Humber News on Tuesday.

“The muscles aren’t strong enough to support the joint – that takes a little time.”

Many people are excited to see dramatic results and they think the harder they push themselves, the better, Cotton said. What few realize is that they may inadvertently end up doing more harm than good, he said.

Cotton said though the phrase “No pain, no gain” has long since been associated with fitness, it is, in fact, completely backwards.

“People wear that soreness as a badge of success, but especially if you’re significantly sore the next day, you’ve done too much,” Cotton said. “It’s easier to stick with activity if you don’t make it painful.”

Not only is there a risk tearing a muscle by not properly working out, but there is also a possibility of a more serious outcome, he said.

One concern is rhabdomyolysis, a disorder in which muscle is broken down and transported to the bloodstream, which then clogs up the kidneys, causing permanent damage, Cotton said.

Officials at Humber College Athletic Centre have seen people work themselves too hard. Leanne Henwood-Adam, the centre’s fitness coordinator, said though it’s rare, the fitness staff are prepared to deal with emergencies.

“All of the full time staff within the athletics department have CPR, AED and first aid,” Henwood-Adam told Humber News Tuesday.

Three automated external defibrillators are located in the gym, in case of emergency.

“We’ve seen it here before where people have been running like crazy or they’ve done back to back aerobic classes,” Henwood-Adam said, “and then their heart rate stays elevated for a longer period of time and they feel like their heart is racing.”


“It’s easier to stick with activity if you don’t make it painful.”

-Exercise specialist Richard Cotton


It’s especially dangerous for what some refer to as “January joiners.” Henwood-Adams said those who start off the new year pushing themselves to lose weight are at risk of hurting themselves.

It’s all about moderation and consistency, she said.

If someone hasn’t exercised in months, or especially for over a year, they need to be careful about how they get back into it. She recommends going to a family doctor to make sure there are no lurking dangers that could cause problems.

“I don’t think people need to be scared about working out; I think people just need to be smart about it,” Henwood-Adam said.

For some people, working out fast and hard has a lot to do with time restriction.

Nikita Isaac, 22, a first-year business administration student, told Humber News that she knows people who want results right away, so they up their workout to hopefully see quick, dramatic changes to their bodies.

“We don’t have a lot of natural exercise incorporated in our daily living so we have to resort to this – basically setting aside time to give your body exercise,” Isaac said.

But even in a fast paced society, being fast isn’t the same as being healthy.

“I always say give yourself more time than you think you need to progress,” Cotton said. “Consistency is key.”