Extreme exercise workouts can lead to blood poisoning: Australian researchers say pushing your body to exercise beyond its endurance levels can release harmful bacteria into your bloodstream, which can cause blood poisoning.

Tips To Stay Fit: Extreme Exercise

Exercise is considered beneficial for health, especially in view of the increasingly sedentary lifestyle we lead. Rising percentages of obesity are proof that we aren’t exercising regularly. But it can be easy to go overboard in the quest to get fit and over-exercising can be dangerous as well.

Scientists from Monash University, Australia have discovered that in the case of extreme exercising bacteria in the intestine can leak into the blood stream causing blood poisoning. They monitored people running in two different types of marathons: 24-hour ultra-marathon and multi-stage ultra-marathons run on consecutive days.

The study is the first of its kind to find a link between extreme exercising and the stress it may put on the gut. It was observed that exercise over a prolonged period of time caused the wall of the gut to change, which allowed the naturally present bacteria in the gut to leak into the bloodstream. These bacteria cause the immune cells to produce an inflammatory response similar to how it would react to a serious infection.

Individuals who are fit, healthy, and who have followed a proper training program to build endurance for extreme events have developed immune mechanisms to counteract the bacteria leaking into the bloodstream. But those individuals who take part in extreme exercises with no training risk putting their body under huge strain.

When the body senses the levels of endotoxic bacteria rising in the bloodstream, the immune response is stronger that the body’s counter action. In extreme cases, blood poisoning could lead to systemic inflammatory response syndrome, which if not diagnosed and treated immediately, can be fatal.

Dr. Ricardo Costa from the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics led the study. He said, “Nearly all of the participants in our study had blood markers identical to patients admitted to hospitals with sepsis. That’s because the bacterial endotoxin that has leached into the blood as a result of extreme exercise triggers the body’s immune response.”

Dr. Costa stressed the need for a proper regimen to build endurance for such events and a health check as necessary guidelines for people considering these endurance events.

“It’s crucial that anyone who signs up to an event, gets a health check first and builds a slow and steady training program, rather than jumping straight into a marathon, for example, with only a month’s training. Any program with over four hours of exercise is considered extreme.”

The team observed that those who had trained over a longer period of time and thus were fitter had higher levels of Interleukin-10, which is an anti-inflammatory agent. This helped to dampen the immune response that could have a negative effect on health. However usual tips to stay fit in health and fitness industries suggest for extreme workouts.

“The body has the ability to adapt and put the brake on negative immune responses caused by extreme endurance events. But if you haven’t trained for it and you’re unfit, then you can get in trouble.” Dr. Costa added.

The team is conducting further research to understand the degree exercise affects the function and integrity of the gut. They will also focus on developing strategies to prevent and manage gut damage as well as symptoms caused by heat stress and extreme exercise workouts.

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