Sports   Sign on with SNNMedia MentorsBack IssuesMain Page
Sign on with SNNReporter's ToolboxMedia MentorsIn the ClassroomBack IssuesThis IssueMain Page
Reporter's ToolboxIn the ClassroomThis Issue

Excessive work-outs cause health troubles for teens

By Amber Zirnhelt
Columneetza Secondary School
Williams Lake, British Columbia

Whether you are watching from the sidelines, flipping through a newspaper or right in with the action, sports are a part of every day life.

Associated with athletics are muscular body images. Working out on a regular basis is healthy, as long as you don't take it too far. In recent years, many men and women have identified with a disorder called muscle dysmorphia.

Muscle dysmorphia is said to be the reverse form of anorexia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is when a person diets until they are severely underweight. With muscle dysmorphia, a person will see him or herself as out of shape, even if they are a body builder or accomplished athlete. People with muscle dysmorphia are so preoccupied with working out that they will put off social engagements and careers so that they can go to the gym for hours every day.

In many cases, muscle dysmorphia leads to the use of steroids to build bigger muscles. Steroids trick the body into thinking that testosterone is being produced. When the body senses an excess of testosterone, it shuts down bodily functions involving testosterone like bone growth. This causes the ends of bones to fuse together and stop growing, which results in stunted growth. Steroids were originally developed in the 1930's to rebuild and prevent the breakdown of body tissues from disease.

Use of steroids by female athletes has caused the women to develop so many male characteristics that they had to have chromosome tests to prove that they were female. Also, steroid use has caused males to develop such large prostate glands that they needed a tube inserted so that they could urinate. Steroids are often manufactured in motels and warehouses and then smuggled into Canada and the United States. The amount, strength and purity of steroids are not regulated. Therefore, it is almost impossible for the user to know how much and what exactly they are taking.

Although there are many harmful affects from steroids, there are many possible reasons why young people are resorting to using them. The main reason is body image. With the way our world is today, many young men feel they need to look strong and muscular in order to fit in or be a "real man." Also, athletic activities, especially body building, stress muscular development. In sports competitions, there is often so much pressure to win that people resort to the use of steroids so that they don't let down their team or their fans.

When it comes to sport competitions, remember that it's not just about winning. It's about going out, having a good time and trying your best. If you take drugs to enhance your performance, you aren't really enhancing your performance --you are cheating your way out. Sports aren't just about how tough you are or how big of muscles you have, they are about how hard you try and whether you can beat your own records.

We need to remember that how our body looks is not as important as how our mind thinks. Watching television shows and reading magazines causes us to think twice about body image because they contain mainly pictures of skinny, pretty females and strong, muscular males. We are so caught up in the image that the media portrays that we often forget what's important. Remember the saying: "Beauty is only skin deep."


 Back to Current Issue