This is a question often asked by newbies who are looking to adopt a lifestyle tailored to bodybuilding.
Is bodybuilding healthy? In this article we’ll discuss the physical, social, mental and spiritual aspects of bodybuilding – so you can decide whether bodybuilding is a good fit for you.
The short answer to this question:Bodybuilding can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on your mentality. It's like water, in moderate doses you'll become hydrated, but in large quantities you'll end up drowning.
Bodybuilding involves lifting weights. There are several advantages to weight training including:
- Increased metabolism
- Healthier heart
- Healthier joints
Bodybuilding will spike your metabolism, helping you get leaner which is good for overall health.
Although bodybuilding may spike your blood pressure initially after a workout, over the long run it’s likely to improve your cardiovascular health (1). If you’re adding cardio to your weekly workout split, your heart will be in even better health.
Bodybuilding spikes HGH levels which increases collagen production, keeping your skin looking young and vibrant.
There’s also research suggesting bodybuilding is good for your joints (2). However, if you lift extremely heavy weights on a regular basis, this may increase your chances of experiencing tendinitis or joint pain in the future.
The benefits listed above all apply to natural bodybuilding. When someone takes anabolic steroids, their health can often deteriorate.
Steroid-users can often experience the following:
- Low testosterone levels
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol
- Erectile dysfunction
- Liver damage
Thus, taking harsh and illegal drugs like steroids is not going to be a healthy for any bodybuilder. And the longer you take these substances, the more likely you are to experience problems, that may affect you for the rest of your life.
For some, taking high doses of steroids can be fatal.
Lifting weights causes a surge of endorphins in the brain, which Arnold eloquently referred to (from this famous scene in Pumping Iron).
This is why many people find going to the gym addictive, because of this endorphin rush; and it explains why people can feel a little down on rest days, because they miss this buzz.
Also lifting weights is proven to increase testosterone levels, which is important for overall well-being. Thus, natural bodybuilding, in regards to mental health, is generally positive.
However, when bodybuilding is taken to the extreme and becomes an obsession, people can develop muscle dysmorphia (sometimes known as bigorexia). This is when you think your muscles are never big enough.
So, a 250lb bodybuilder might look massive to everyone else, but when he looks in the mirror he thinks his muscles are relatively small. He perceives his muscles as never big enough.
Also when steroids are taken, this can have a big impact on a person mentally. Users often report feelings of anxiety and depression; especially post-cycle when testosterone levels have crashed.
Steroid-users are also more susceptible to feelings of aggression, famously known as ‘roid rage’, which can be observed by family members, partners and friends.
Bodybuilding can also increase confidence in individuals, especially if they were out of shape before lifting weights, and now they’re ripped to shreds. This can naturally result in more attention from the opposite sex, and more respect from those of the same gender.
For those who are interested in being spiritually healthy. God in the Bible teaches that your body is not yours, it’s God’s temple. Thus it’s your duty to look after it.
So, with the health benefits of natural bodybuilding; weight lifting and exercise in general is certainly pleasing to God.
However, if this is done in a way where it’s taking over your life, due to you obsessing about how you look, this could be classed as vanity – which the Bible teaches is a sin.
Also if you were to take steroids, it’s well documented how damaging they are to your body, so taking such substances is almost certainly sinful. Also anabolic steroids are illegal in most countries (for bodybuilding purposes), so you’d be breaking the law by taking them.
Is Bodybuilding Healthy?
If someone lifts weights (without going to extremes), it’s physically, mentally and spiritually healthy. However, if this turns into an obsession, causing anxiety via dysmorphia; or leading to someone breaking the law and using steroids; this could be damaging to ones health and soul.