Exercise has long been recommended by health professionals and fitness enthusiasts for the many benefits it offers. Chief among these are improved health, reduced stress and reduced likelihood of chronic illness. Unfortunately, in the quest for perfection, some people go beyond benefits and put themselves in real danger. Here are some unhealthy fitness trends to lookout for…and avoid.

Thigh gap
Despite all the photos and tips devoted to this sought-after badge of thinness, it is structurally impossible for most people to have a gap between their thighs without dropping to an insanely unhealthy weight. Rather than use this artificial, and dangerous, measure notice how your clothes fit, where your numbers are when you visit the doctor and how much energy you have to tackle the activities you enjoy.

A4 Paper challenge
Another homage to the extreme. This trend has taken off in China where some women hold sheets of paper up to their waists with the hope that the sheet, less than 8 ½ inches across, will completely cover their abdominal area. Being thin enough to hide your entire middle body behind a sheet of paper is one trend that will exact a hefty toll on the body and mind.

Extreme exercise
CrossFit, marathons, ultra-marathons, hot yoga and HIIT are absolutely right for some, but definitely not for everyone. Bodies pushed too far or too hard are more likely to sustain injury. It is better to choose activities that are appropriate for your fitness level that you can commit to over the long-haul. Likewise, it is important to plan rest days, rather than overdo exercise. Rest days are important for building muscle and improving fitness.

Cracked Abs
This line down the middle of the abs occurs when body fat drops to unhealthy levels. Lost muscle is also a feature of cracked abs, which is not without consequences. Such low levels of fat and muscle have a negative impact on overall health, making it difficult for the systems of the body to function normally. For most people this look is unattainable and will cause serious health problems.


Waist training
Ideas about the measure of an attractive waist have been distorted by any number of influences from Barbie to Scarlett O’Hara and the Kardashians. These ideas just aren’t realistic. Still, women are increasingly willing to risk their ribs and abandon full breaths to try for impossibly small waists. Waist trainers are a dangerous trend in that they restrict breathing and internal organs. Fainting, dizziness, cracked ribs and compressed lungs are only some of the dangers.

Exercise is meant to improve health, not compromise it. Adopt fitness habits that focus on the benefits and steer clear of the dangers. Be realistic, too. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Exercise is meant to help you be the healthiest, best version of you. It is not meant as an exercise in exorcising normal body features or imagined imperfections…. they are what make you uniquely you. Love and take care of the body you’re in. It is the only one you will get.