-Written by Dr. Ninada, Tutor, AJ Institute of Medical Sciences

To play or not to play! The benefits of being sportive and the qualms exertions brings with it, are at an impasse. 

We’ve all had that annoying teacher gobbling up our already scarce games/ sports hours in school, teachers who ascertained that the “PT period” was the most dispensable of all our classes! We still haven’t forgiven those teachers, have we? Years later, the neglect of sports continues to exist despite establishing the need for sports.

Put on your running shoes and gear up for this!

We, the citizens of the diabetic capital of the world, are programmed since early childhood that exercise comes only at leisure, that it is a privilege to be accessed only after we have completed our math, science, social and languages portion for the year. It has never been an integral part of our education and as empowered adults, we gave it no part in our schedules. 

What does sports do for us? When I say sports, I encompass everything that lies on the spectrum of a full fledged football match to the board game of Snakes & Ladders. 

Playing, the thrill of it, the urge to win, the sweet victory and the bitter defeats, they release a range of hormones in our body that apart from the obvious physical gains, also make us “happy”. Yes, I invoke the endorphins – also termed “runner’s high”. A euphoric analgesic, it is a natural stress reliever and anti depressant!

Studies have shown that regular forms of exercise relieve not only conditions like obesity, hypertension, PCOS, Diabetes mellitus- but also depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders. In fact, exercise is a recommended, underused treatment for mild to moderate depression(1).

Chess is the Nawazuddin Siddiqui of the sports world. Amazing, yet so underrated. Studies have substantially proved that chess prevents cognitive/ behavioral deterioration of the brain(2), fuels creativity, enhances problem solving aptitude, and yet the extremely small portion of chess players among our population is distressing. 

All work and no play turned Jack into a dull boy, however too much play brought Molly Schroeder very close to death  at 21, making her among the youngest persons to have suffered and survived a myocardial infarction(3).

In recent times, we have lost several youngsters who were seemingly “fit” with due care given to physical fitness. Can physical activity kill you? I had a resident brought into the ER following complaints of chest pain and weakness during a basketball match. With no family history, the investigations showed an acute MI. Collapses on playing grounds, gyms etc have become a common sight, especially amongst youngsters. Beside MI, intense training can also cause rhabdomyolysis, insomnia etc.

Not to add, professional sports has often been intertwined with the dark world of abuse, addiction and self depreciation. Performance enhancing drugs are a debate in themselves! 

But it brings us back to square one with the question- how much sport is sportive, beyond what is it toxic? While the math teacher definitely can’t answer these questions, maybe we would know the answers to it if only the PT period had not been cruelly taken away! 

However, warning signs of overtraining include(5), but are not limited to:

  • general fatigue.
  • Increase in tension, depression, anger or confusion.
  • Inability to relax.
  • Poor-quality sleep.
  • Lack of energy, decreased motivation, moodiness.
  • Not feeling joy from things that were once enjoyable.

While there is no gain without pain, we also need to know the physiological limitations of the body and respect these boundaries.

As important as scoring a goal is, getting checkmated by my own body is something I don’t look forward to! 


  3. Surviving a Heart Attack at 21 – Healthline
  4. Too much exercise can kill you, but how much is too much?

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