Risky bodybuilding substances damage brain performance


Andres Martinez

Senior music theory and composition major, Roberto Loya lifts weights at the UTEP recreation center

Julia Hettiger, Staff Reporter

Bodybuilding, the practice of strengthening and enlarging  the muscles of the body through exercise, can affect the mental and physical health of people by teaching discipline and helping people to concentrate and focus.

When the body is indulged in this kind of exercise it releases endorphins that can help increase positive feelings and one’s overall feeling of wellbeing, protect against mental illness and induce feelings of relaxation.

While not every student is a bodybuilder, many exercise to stay in shape and alleviate negative issues with their mind and body.

De’quan Tillman, sophomore biochemistry major, said he exercises twice a week and exercising has been proven to help relieve stress and provide more energy.

“I feel better mentally after I exercise,” Tillman said. “It helps relieve stress.”

Bodybuilding can also help to relieve mental illnesses and problems such as anxiety.

“A lot of bodybuilders use it as therapy and stress relief,” said Sarah Shy, bodybuilder and contributor to bodybuilder.com in a live chat. “Most of us who lift are not vain and we use it as an outlet.”

To enhance performance, bodybuilders may take substances that can help give them energy and enlarge their muscles at a faster pace. A common substance consumed is creatine.

Creatine is a nitrogenous organic acid produced in the body to supply energy to the body, primarily the muscles. Bodybuilders will take creatine to increase their muscle energy in order to improve and lengthen their performance.

Some of the negative side effects of creatine include asthmatic symptoms, muscle disorders and increases in the risk of colon, breast and prostate cancer.

Another common substance that is abused by bodybuilders and people who exercise regularly is diuretics. Diuretics help the body shed water weight at a faster rate than normal.

David Robson, professional bodybuilder, described the exercise scene as chemical warfare.

“From primitive caffeine and alcohol used by cyclists in the 19th century to Clenbuterol–a complex synergism of multiple, highly evolved substances used to burn fat–drug use in sport has progressed,” Robson said during a live chat.

Bodybuilding and the consumption of different substances to enhance performance can have both positive and negative side effects on the body.

Another widely used substance employed by bodybuilders is anabolic steroids, which are synthetic variants of testosterone. Although the steroids can be used to help with muscle building and to counter hormone deficiency, many athletes commonly abuse it.

Robson said he gained an insider scoop on steroids and the positive and negative effects of steroids and bodybuilding on the body when he interviewed a pro-bodybuilder who relied on substances to increase his performance quality and muscle weight.

“These substances affect the brain in a harmful way by restricting the production of dopamine and serotonin,” Robson said. “This can lead to aggression and other psychiatric disorders.”

Jesus Morales, freshman kinesiology major, exercises four times a week and said exercise can help relieve stress, but he would not use substances to enhance his performance.

“Substances that are risky, or even illegal, can have negative side effects on the body,” Morales said.

As a bodybuilder, Robson believes the ideal necessities to becoming a professional are exercising, dieting and persistence.

For more information about bodybuilding and fitness, visit bodybuilders.com.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]