Jan 12


Happy Monday, and welcome to the second installment of Medical Mondays!

As a fitness junkie with an Exercise Biology degree, a love for all sorts of physical activity, and aspirations to someday set national records in powerlifting, this topic had to have been at least somewhat expected, right? ;P

As this topic is insanely broad, there’s no way I can do it justice in a single post. This will be more of a broad overview on the benefits & risks of exercise.

Let’s start with this: a sedentary lifestyle is the cause for a multitude of health problems all over the world, especially in developed countries.

Most American adults don’t meet the national guidelines for being physically active (150 minutes of physical activity per week), and physical inactivity has been associated with a lot of poor health outcomes, including increased mortality.

I don’t know about you, but there’s a lot I want to accomplish with my life, and if there’s something I can do to decrease the risk of being snuffed out early, I’m all for it.

Benefits of Exercise

  • Aerobic training leads to a decrease in your “bad” cholesterol, and an increase in your “good” cholesterol.
  • Aerobic training also has positive effects on your body composition and aerobic capacity (e.g. if you ever want to outrun people in a zombie apocalypse, you probably want a higher aerobic capacity than most).
  • Long-term aerobic exercise + strength training has a beneficial effect on systemic blood pressure.
  • Exercise may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • There was a significant reduced risk of colon cancer in a study comparing the most vs. the least active individuals.
  • Weight-bearing exercise is associated with an increase in bone mineral density in both genders.
  • Observational studies suggest that physical activity may reduce the risk of dementia + cognitive decline in older patients.
  • Regular exercise reduces stress, anxiety and depression.


From http://www.exercise-works.org

Image from Exercise Works.

Risks of Exercise

The benefits of physical activity vastly outweigh the possible associated risks, but there are obviously risks to exercise that I should mention, as there is a such thing as “too much of a good thing!”

  • The most common one is musculoskeletal injury (e.g. strains, tears, inflammation, stress/traumatic fractures).
  • There is an increased risk of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) during exercise in patients with a prior history of arrhythmia, or underlying heart disease.
  • Sudden cardiac death is rare, but can occur during physical or sexual activity. The risk is less, or may not be increased at all if you’re a habitual exerciser! (This is one of the reasons why so many exercise programs tell you to consult your physician before starting!)
  • Extreme physical exertion for extended periods of time could potentially lead to rhabdomyolysis, which is when your body is failing to supply your muscles with sufficient energy. Severe complications can include kidney failure and electrolyte abnormalities.
  • Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction can occur in people with symptomatic asthma. Improving their cardiovascular fitness can help to decrease the stimulus for bronchoconstriction, which can help prevent its onset!

My Exercise Biology major is what prompted my love for all things fitness-related and sent me off on my fitness journey.

Because of this, I’ve found two awesome communities–Girls Gone Sporty and Sweat Pink, where I’ve “met” (yay for technology + hopeful someday IRL-meetups!) so many inspiring and amazing ladies dedicated to living and leading healthy lifestyles (e.g. with Sweat Pink’s #NoExcuses Challenge). <3

I hope to use what I learn to someday be able to instill that on my future patients, and to encourage and support them on their own journeys towards better health and fitness! :]

I came up with this design ages ago for our class t-shirt contest! :]
Disclaimer: This information was obtained from an UpToDate article; if you want references/specific studies, you can email me and I’ll see what I can do about obtaining em’ for you! This is also where I reiterate that I am merely a medical student struggling through the world that is her clinical rotations. The statements made on this blog should not be taken as medical advice to treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please contact your own physician or health care provider before starting a health or fitness/wellness program. (See full disclaimer here.)

Permanent link to this article: http://www.fairyburger.com/exercise/


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  1. Erica @ erica finds

    It will be a great challenge to get sedentary patients to exercise. If anyone can, my money is on you!
    Erica @ erica finds recently posted…Start the Year Off Right with FLYJOY Bars! #GiveawayMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Aww, thank you! 😀 I really hope so! (I’ll just keep working on em’–maybe they’ll get sick of hearing me harping on em’ and will start just to get me to shut it! 😛 )

  2. Susie @ SuzLyfe

    Just 10,000 steps. guys. Start there, and the rest will follow!
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…While my husband is away… #MIMMMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Yes indeed! Sometimes the hardest part is just starting it up!

  3. rachel @ Athletic Avocado

    nice post! Exercise is so important for a well-being!
    rachel @ Athletic Avocado recently posted…10 Amazing Healthy Pancake Recipes you MUST TRY!My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you, and definitely! I have wayy more energy when I get a workout in that day! :]

  4. jess meddows

    Excellent post, Farrah! I love the balanced comparison here, but how obvious it is that the benefits outweigh the risks 🙂 I just need to get back into it, had 6 weeks off, blergh!

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! :] I’ve been on a crusade of sorts to try to get my preceptor’s patients to start exercising. Not sure how many I’ve managed to convince, but even if I get just one, it’s still a difference! <3

  5. Miranda @ Miranda Writes Blog

    I love the cartoon in the post! So funny, but sadly very true! I’ve been trying to fit yoga and walking into my routine and I always feel much better when I get some exercise! Great post! =)

    1. Farrah

      Agreed! I laughed when I saw it, but was also kinda saddened, because so many people don’t realize that that’s the case. Unless I’m reallyyyy drained, I’m usually way more energetic when I can get a workout in for the day! 😀

  6. Jess @hellotofit

    Great post! Love the tie to the health/medical aspect, which many people can look past, sometimes 🙂 It’s not all about aesthetics! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Jess @hellotofit recently posted…Monday motivation: a new kind of YOLOMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! :] And yep, definitely! The aesthetics are a pretty nice added bonus though! ;P

  7. Kaitlyn

    I really need to get back into the swing of things. I started running but my breathing was all funny and I got so discouraged! To the gym I go!!
    Kaitlyn recently posted…Cheshire TrailsMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      There there! Everyone’s gotta start/restart somewhere! My motivation to leave my apartment has been next to none these days because it’s sososo cold, but I shall be haulin’ my butt to the gym this evening! 😀

  8. Jamie

    I decided back in July to start focusing on my health and to start working out regularly! I have been working out 3-5 times a week since then….I feel so much better, I have lost almost 40 pounds…and I know my long term health will benefit greatly!
    Jamie recently posted…Cornbread Taco BakeMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Yay! 😀 Major props to you, and I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling a lot better and are down 40 lbs! That’s absolutely amazing! Keep up the awesome work! <3

  9. Alanna

    Great tips! I love being a part of the sweat pink community, everyone is so inspiring and motivational 🙂
    Alanna recently posted…Gluten-Free Blueberry BreadMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks! 😀 They really are! It’s really been helping me since my motivation drops significantly in correlation to the plummeting temperatures outside, hahaha. 😛

  10. Gloria

    Great tips, and I especially like that you do highlight the risks of exercise (particularly rhabdo) since everyone always talks solely about the benefits. Definitely loving this Monday series!
    Gloria recently posted…Barre3 UTC Review + ChallengeMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks so much! :D! I’m really glad to hear that. :] It actually takes some weeding through sometimes to actually find the reputable articles on exercise risks. More evidence that its benefits clearly outweigh the risks? ;P

  11. Annmarie

    Great post, as always! Hope to meet IRL soon!!! 🙂
    Annmarie recently posted…Meatless Monday: Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Energy BarsMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you, and me too! <3 Fingers crossed!

  12. Kat

    Exercise and fitness is literally my life. Of course it was also my battle during ED (exercise addiction). But fitness just means so much more to me now. The strength I feel mentally and physically from pushing my body is unlike any other!
    Kat recently posted…White Chocolate Cranberry Protein BitesMy Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’m glad that it does and that you won your battle! <3 There's definitely a feeling of awesomeness I get from working out that I can't get from anything else!

  13. Jess@Flying Feet

    I really enjoyed this post! Thanks for sharing. I don’t have a degree but I’m a total fitness, health, food nerd! I am studying to take my NASM personal trainer exam so I’m digesting all health related info! Thanks again for the informative post. Keep it up!
    Jess@Flying Feet recently posted…#MarathonMonday Week 2: Magic In The Gloves.My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thank you! + yay, that’s awesome! That’s the certification I would’ve gone for as a personal trainer if I hadn’t been trying to commit academic suicide back in undergrad! <3 Best of luck to you on your exam! :]

  14. Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine

    I learned ALLLL about this in my fitness class last semester ;P
    Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine recently posted…Power Monday #66 Hey You!My Profile

    1. Farrah

      I’m glad! ;P Consider this my lightning-quick refresher course! :D!

  15. Sonali- The Foodie Physician

    Another great post! I love Medical Mondays! That cartoon cracked me up 🙂

    1. Farrah

      Thanks! 😀 And yeah! I love that cartoon! Maybe if I put it like that, more people will listen! :O

  16. Nadine Renee

    Great information! Thank you!
    Nadine Renee recently posted…Heal Arthritis Pain With This One Drink!My Profile

    1. Farrah

      Thanks! 😀 Hope you have an awesome week!

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