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  • Writer's pictureDani Golub

3 ways your workout could actually be hurting you, according to experts

It's no secret that working out is one of the most important things a person can do for their physical and mental health (via Medline Plus). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that working out has a positive impact on our brain health, cardiovascular health, and mental health. Plus, it can even help us live longer. But while there are countless benefits to exercise, there are also some downsides and risks if you push your body too much or have developed poor exercise habits.

During a workout, people can get caught up in the moment and push through pain, ignore their form, dismiss symptoms like excessive dizziness, and not recognize other ways their workout routine could be impacting their physical well-being. While you can be sure that exercise has many proven benefits, it's also important to recognize ways your workout could be doing damage to your body.

1. If you’re in pain, stop your workout immediately

Oftentimes while working out, people think they should be pushing through pain. And while, sure, feeling the burn while doing squats is normal, actual pain is not. Sports medicine physician Dominic King told Cleveland Clinic's Health Essentials, "Pain represents injury." He added that pain can be the result of "overuse or too much stress placed on a muscle or tendon."

Additionally, Natalie Neuharth, a physical therapist at Reneu Sport + Health, agreed telling Self that, "No pain, no gain is not always true in exercise, so don’t push through it if your mind is telling you it may be something else. It’s always better to prevent injury than to try and fix it." She also added that some types of pain to look out for include sharp pain, pain with swelling, localized pain, pain that gets worse, and painful pops. If you experience any of these types of discomfort, you should stop working out and seek medical attention. It's important to listen to your body because pushing through pain could end up causing or worsening a real injury, and not to mention force you to sit out of workouts for longer.

2. If you get really dizzy or lightheaded during your workouts, you might want to see a doctor

Dizziness or lightheadedness can be a tricky symptom to monitor because it's not uncommon to feel that way, at least briefly, after a particularly difficult workout (via Healthline). But if you're feeling dizzy long after your workout or if you get lightheaded even after light exercise, it's a good idea to seek medical assistance.

Dr. Roshini Raj wrote in Health that dizziness while working out can have simple fixes, like drinking more fluids or not pushing yourself as hard. But he also added that "feeling the spins at the gym can be related to exercise-induced asthma." This can be treated with an inhaler to use before you hit the gym. And in more serious cases, Dr. Raj explained that "dizziness during a workout could signal an underlying heart problem, one of which is an abnormal rhythm, called an arrhythmia."

If you're frequently feeling dizzy during or after exercising, check with your doctor and always make sure you're properly hydrating, eating enough before you exercise, and taking breaks when your body needs it.

3. Working out in extreme heat can lead to serious heat-related illnesses

Regardless of how strenuous your workout is, it's always important to take care of yourself as temperatures rise. Whether you're playing sports outside in the summer or doing an indoor hot yoga class in the winter, extreme heat can be life threatening even for the best athletes.

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Exercising in hot weather puts extra stress on your body. If you don't take care when exercising in the heat, you risk serious illness." And the CDC reports that each year, more than 700 people in the United States die from extreme heat-related incidents.

Mayo Clinic says some signs to look out for when watching for heat-related illnesses include muscle cramps, nausea, weakness, headache, excessive sweating, and dizziness. If you do develop any of these symptoms, you'll need to lower your body temperature by stopping your workout, getting out of the heat, and getting hydrated. It's also ideal to have someone stay with you to help monitor your symptoms. The moral of the story: Be extremely careful when exercising in extreme heat!

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