Sports Mania vs Fitness
The Western diet and sedentary lifestyle have resulted in a
lack of fitness among those who do not make a concerted
effort. Yet, many times those efforts prove unsuccessful
because they are not sustainable lifestyle changes. For this
reason, there is a huge difference between sports mania and
What is Sports Mania?
We should first define the word mania. While it can mean
“an excessive enthusiasm or desire; an obsession” it can also
mean “mental illness marked by periods of great excitement,
Oftentimes the recognition that we are lacking in fitness
causes an extreme shift. We go from being completely
sedentary to overly active. We jump into a new fitness craze
with both feet and go completely overboard. This is what
could be considered sports mania. The severe overcorrection
that can lead to a drastic uptick in activity, a radical shift that
cannot be sustained for a long period of time.
What is Fitness?
Fitness is defined as “health” but also “capability of the body
to distribute inhaled oxygen to muscle tissue during increased
physical effort”. In other words, true fitness is wellness and
the ability to stay well during extreme exertion. To an extent,
we could also use the word “stamina” in this instance and still
Fitness isn’t something that can be achieved overnight, it
requires making a concerted effort to fuel our bodies right
and then burn that fuel reasonably, sensibly and responsibly.
The Dangers of Sports Mania
Many times, sports mania is the result of an overreaction
to a fitness dilemma. A healthcare professional gives us
a dire warning about our health and we overreact. While
exercise is wise and, when done properly, is good for us;
that overreaction will result in manic sport involvement
which may result in injuries.
Primary care physicians are always encouraging their
patients to be more active and develop an exercise routine
or regimen, which is clearly good advice. This has created a
rise in popularity of endurance events and gym-based fitness
classes that, while beneficial, can be dangerous. The danger
lies in moving too quickly from a sedentary existence to an
extremely physical one.
In 1989, classes involving high-intensity stationary cycling or
“spinning” were introduced in California and over the next 10
years became incredibly popular. This form of exercise helps
burn calories while building cardiovascular endurance, but
not all are ready for it. There are reported cases of previously
healthy adults developing rhabdomyolysis after spin classes.
Rhabdomyolysis is the result of damage to the striated
muscle cell membranes which releases calcium, potassium,
phosphate, urate myglobin and other minerals into the
blood which can cause further muscle damage resulting in
acute renal failure.
This same injury has also reportedly occurred during
other high-intensity workouts such as P90X and CrossFit.
Programs that involve overtraining are rarely sustainable and
may be dangerous for those that are not prepared for the
Of course, this is obviously the more dramatic risk involved in
sports mania, but joint damage, soft tissue injuries and other
physical injuries are not uncommon when the body is not
prepared to drastically change from sedentary to active.
Children Equally Affected
We’ve all read the reports that childhood obesity and thus
pediatric type-2 diabetes diagnosis are on the rise. It’s also
true that children need to spend less time in front of a
screen and more time outside playing. What they don’t
need, is to be over-scheduled to the point of physical and
Just as sports mania has its risks for adults, doctors have
begun to see a significant increase in sports-related overuse
injuries in children in the past several years. Overuse injuries
occur gradually over time, but the danger arises when
children aren’t given time for those injuries to heal properly.
Overuse injuries occur in a wide range of sports, but some
are more specific. For instance, throwing injuries will typically
affect the elbow and shoulder but shoulder injuries are also
prevalent in swimmers. Because children’s bones are still
growing these injuries may have future consequences.
“Any sport can produce an overuse injury,” explained Dr. Cynthia LaBella, medical director of the Institute for Sports Medicine at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “Overuse injuries are increasing for a couple of reasons. Sports are much more competitive at an earlier age, and many children are playing one sport year-round now. They’re not getting enough time off for their bodies to recover. Or, they might be playing three sports at once, and what that amounts to is that they never get a day off.”
Safe and Effective Fitness
The safest fitness regimen is going to be the European
model, where getting outside and walking, hiking or biking
is routine. In the European Union, almost half of the adult
population spends at least 2 ½ hours per week of their
leisure time doing physical activities, which is the minimum
level of physical activities recommended by the World
Fitness is achieved when the body is fueled properly
and then used properly for a reasonable amount of time.
Going for a 30 to 45-minute walk at least three times
a week will have clear results: better health, increased
stamina, improved sleep and even enhanced cognitive
thinking and acuity.
This is not meant to say that participating in sports is
bad for you or your child’s health but, as in all things,
moderation is key. Whether the sport itself is extreme
(high-risk skateboarding or snowboard) or the time spent
at the sport is extreme (3 to 5 games a week or frequent
participation), anything done in excess is not only not safe
but also not beneficial. Again, follow the European model:
they don’t do extremes.
Dr. Michael Kelly, chairman of the department of
orthopedic surgery at Hackensack University Medical
Center in New Jersey, said that while it’s a lot healthier for
the body to “cross train” with different sports, many kids
today focus on just one sport. In the past, children played
football and then when that season was over they might play
basketball or softball. This allowed the body to get a break
and avoided repetitive injuries.
Because they’re still growing, children are more susceptible
to repetitive injuries. Sports mania is resulting in more
surgeries being performed on the pediatric population
including repairing of ACL Tears and Meniscus Tears, a
surgery normally performed on adults in their 60’s and 70’s
The Chiropractic Factor
The issue of sports mania vs fitness has its foundation in our
culture of extremes. When we consider what fitness was
back in the 50’s and 60’s, the past 50 years have not done
us any favors. We are not healthier as a society. We’ve gone
into so many different extremes and the result is increased
injuries and a lack of wellness.
From a chiropractic perspective, these extremes are
damaging joints and resulting in overuse injuries that have
not been seen in the past. Children are requiring surgeries
that used to be associated with old age. What does this
mean for adults 20 or 30 years from now? Someone in their
50’s may be experiencing a lack of mobility and function that
is typical for someone in their 80’s. Decisions made in their
childhood and early adulthood may have consequences
affecting the rest of their lives; lost mobility for the back half
of their life.
If you genuinely want to make a change to a more wellness
lifestyle that includes better nutrition and physical activity,
then be sure to ask your Family Wellness Chiropractor for
recommendations. Your Doctor of Chiropractic can suggest
ways for you to gradually move from sedentary to active and
avoid the dangers of “extremes”.
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