Exercise and Stimulants — Reducing Drug Use and Making Sports Safe for All

Cece Jarry

Exercise is a great way to stay in shape, become active, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially now when we are all stuck at home. However, people who are taking stimulants must be careful when working out, as these drugs can cause you to suffer negative side effects that can potentially lead to you injuring yourself in some way. 

Stimulants, as VeryWell Mind states, are “…a class of psychoactive drugs that increase activity in the brain. These drugs can temporarily elevate alertness, mood, and awareness.” If you have to take stimulants for medical reasons, it is advised to work out or exercise beforehand, in order to limit the effects it has on your health. Otherwise, you should not be taking stimulants at all, as they can be abused and lead to addiction–and in this case, you need to seek help from a doctor. 

Some of the main types of stimulants include caffeine, nicotine, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other prescription stimulants. Caffeine, found in coffee, chocolate, and other foods, is the most common type of stimulant, and is a lot more addictive than most people think. It does have a few positive effects, such as increasing energy and alertness, but after heavy use, it can cause anxiety and fatigue. Nicotine is one of the 3 top used psychoactive drugs in the world, and is found in cigarettes and e-cigarettes. It is highly addictive, has virtually no health benefits, and is one of the leading causes of death and disease in the US, causing about 480,000 premature deaths every year. Cocaine is an illegal drug made from the coca plant that was originally used to treat mental disorders before it was found to be addictive. It is one of the most misused illegal drugs in the US, and is very rapidly absorbed by the body. Methamphetamine, also known as meth, is a drug that was originally used to cure many medical conditions including obesity and depression, and is extremely bad for you, because it can destroy brain tissue. Lastly, many different prescription drugs are also classified as stimulants, and are actually still used to treat conditions such as narcolepsy and ADHD, even though they are addictive. They all affect the central nervous system and the nervous system, and have many side effects including tremors, insomnia, and loss of appetite.

Even though stimulant drugs can be harmful to your health, many athletes use them for increased performance. “Stimulants are used in sports to enhance performance. These substances work on the central nervous system to increase alertness, concentration, metabolic rate, power, strength, and to decrease fatigue”, SportsMedToday explains. Although stimulants are effective in helping athletes perform better, it is actually illegal to use a stimulant in a national or international sporting event (a race, game, etc.) and are deemed severe anti-doping offenses by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). WADA’s mission is to create a doping-free, or drug-free, sporting environment, where athletes live with integrity. They talk to students and school-age athletes, reach out to athletes, and work with law enforcement to ensure that sports are safe and fair for everyone. 

Getting back to the point, while also taking into account the fact that stimulants are illegal, they can also come with numerous negative side effects including an increase in blood pressure, anxiety, shortness of breath and dizziness, strokes, chest pain, heat exhaustion, and in extreme cases, palpitations and heart attacks. Healthy athletes should definitely avoid stimulants at all costs, because if you do not trust your own athletic abilities, and have to rely on drugs to succeed, then you should not be competing at all.

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/health/medications-workouts-do-not-mix

https://www.sportsmedtoday.com/stimulants-va-163.htm

https://www.wada-ama.org/en/what-we-do

https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-stimulants-2795573

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