10 Unfortunate But Unavoidable Side Effects of Working Out


By , Greatist.com

So we already know that exercise is good for you for about a million reasons — it can boost brainpower, make us look and feel good, and alleviate stress, just to name a few. But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies after hitting the gym: Dealing with stink, sweat, and aches and pains can be tough. While there’s likely no way to stop the unfortunate side effects of working out (besides becoming a couch potato), we’re here to recognize each and every downside, plus offer up some solutions and know-how for when unforeseen consequences strike.

1. You often wake up when it’s still dark out.
No one enjoys an alarm sounding at the crack of dawn, but facing a morning sweat sesh may make the prospect of peeling the covers back even more miserable. On the bright side, research suggests it’s sometimes easier to stick with a morning workout routine, so that’s all the more reason to get your tush out of bed. Become an a.m. athlete with these science-backed tips.

2. You need to pay attention to (and interact with) bad weather.
You’ve got one designated hour to get sweaty, but unfortunately the sky decided to break a sweat at the very same time. Whether it’s raining, snowing, sleeting, or just too darn hot (or cold) to imagine being outdoors, there are still viable options to stay active. The good news is that exercising in cold and hot temps is generally quite safe as long as you take proper precautions.

3. Your phone or MP3 player gets sweat in, on, and around it.
Like many runners, I can’t jog four feet without coming down with a bad case of really sweaty palms (like, really sweaty). While it’s obvious that sweat and electronics don’t mix, who has time (and money) to rig up a waterproof armband every time they want to work out? Try these strategies to keep your technology clean and dry.

4. You need to go back to work looking like a grease ball and smelling like a “Hunger Games” contestant.
Squeezing in a run or a Pilates class during your lunch break is an admirable feat, until you realize you smell like feet upon return to the office. When there’s no time to shower, try one of these time-honored ways to fake it and stave off sweat-induced jock itch (ick).

  • Remove makeup before working out (then apply just the basics afterward).
  • Turn to cleansing wipes, baby powder, and dry shampoo to soak up extra moisture.
  • Change out of sweaty clothes ASAP. Wet clothes are stinky clothes.

5. You blaze through deodorant because you sweat like sinner in church.
Pit stains may be unappealing, but sweating is actually really great for us. Dripping sweat promotes detoxification through the skin and also helps cool us down [1]. Accept your sweatiness by acknowledging that, after all, B.O. is only natural.

  • Learn about what’s in a stick of antiperspirant.
  • If B.O. is your main worry, take solace in the fact that everyone has body odor, and the way we smell is largely based on genetic factors [2].

6. Your hair feels like a matted, sweaty rat’s nest.
There’s nothing worse after a workout than sporting a ‘do that resembles the Hunchback of Notre Dame. To get rid of the dreaded ponytail hair bump  — and avoid a super sweaty hairline (dudes, we’re talking to you too) — it’s best to prevent it in the first place.

7. Your hair also looks like straw and your skin feels like sandpaper from so much showering.
Sexy, right? Washing off all that sweat is the logical conclusion to most workouts. But extra time under the H20 means soap and water will remove protective oils that the skin naturally produces. Turn to the pantry for some frugal fixes.

8. Your feet look disgusting.
Hitting the track, trails, or pavement day after day can do a number on those tootsies. Runner’s toe, a nasty-looking condition accompanied by pain and bloody or bruised toes, can lead to infection and get in the way of a workout routine. Busted feet aren’t limited to runners either; everyone from tennis players to skiers and dancers can experience painful and unsightly feet. Abide by these tips before you have to say, “R.I.P., big toenail.”

  • Pick the right athletic socks to help prevent injuries, improve performance, and keep feet nice and dry.
  • Act like Goldilocks at the shoe store and make sure those sneaks fit just right. If shoes are too tight, constant pressure can irritate the toenail. On the other hand, too-loose footwear means the feet continually bang into the shoe (ouch).
  • This tip may sound silly, but cut your toenails! Keeping those nails trimmed assures they won’t get in the way and contribute to unnecessary injury.

9. Your favorite sneaks smell like a frat party.
We’ve talked about the biology of body odor and it ain’t pretty. Since it’s impractical to run sneakers through the wash after every use, read on to see what you can do about stinky footwear.

10. You’ve got to shave your legs and pits more often. (Disregard if you are all for body hair.)
Skipping arms day because you forgot to shave your pits can be pretty frustrating. Unless you’re planning to take a rest day and let muscles heal, try these tips to avoid a hair-raising gym session.

  • Plan ahead to skirt around an embarrassing crescent pose. Shave the day of or day before an arm workout or a group class that usually requires raising the arms.
  • Wear thin pants or capris to hide furry legs.
  • Embrace the #YOLO. Other gym-goers are likely more interested in their own workouts (and checking themselves out in the mirror) than noticing a Teen Wolf wannabe pumping out shoulder presses.
To see 10 more unwanted exercise side effects, click here!
Works Cited
  1. Arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury in sweat: a systematic review. Sears, M.E., Kerr, K.J., Bray, R.I. Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, ON, Canada. Journal of environmental and public health. 2012;2012;18745.
  2. Body odour of monozygotic human twins: a common pattern of odorant carboxylic acids released by a bacterial aminoacylase from axilla secretions contributing to an inherited body odour type. Kuhn, F., Natsch, A. Analytical Chemistry, Duebendorf, Switzerland. Journal of the Royal Society 2009;6:377-92.

 The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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