Don’t get angry, get healthy

LIHUE — A good workout should put stress on your body’s muscles — not on your health.

Exercising while angry can triple the risk of having a heart attack, according to a American Heart Association Journals report.

Positive energy is the key to a successful workout, according to Jacob “Smilie” Punzal, co-owner of Au’rai Fitness in Lihue. Working out shouldn’t be a stressful activity, it should be a positive experience.

“Some people come in angry because they had a rough day,” Punzal said. “But I tell them every day to leave their negativity outside of the gym and come back in with only positive energy so that you can focus on yourself and on the good.”

Pulama Kealoha, a regular at Au’rai Fitness, was surprised to hear of the study’s findings, citing how working out actually improves her attitude.

“I think there’s two sides to it,” Kealoha said. “I think that when you’re angry, you release those toxins when you’re working out. The endorphins kick in when you’re working out and to me, that helps me feel better. Having a positive attitude helps me work out harder; you wanna do better for your body and it feels good. Having positive energy just helps out so much.”

Emotional stress and exertion can raise the blood pressure and the heart rate of someone in the gym, according to the study’s leader, Dr. Andrew Smyth of McMaster University.

“We continue to advise regular physical activity for all, including those who use exercise to relieve stress,” Smyth told The Associated Press. He went on to say that people should not go beyond their usual routine and overexert themselves when angry or stressed.

Cameron McFarland, a trainer at Kauai Athletic Club in Lihue, hasn’t heard of cardiovascular complications like that, but understands how it may be possible.

“I’ve never heard of that happening but there’s been times when I’ve gone into the gym after receiving bad news and had a less-than-stellar workout,” McFarland said. “I remember when I found out that my dad was going to die, I went to the gym and actually strained a bicep doing curls. I can see where the amount of exertion can go outside the norm of someone working out in a bad mood.”

McFarland has seen people in the gym get fed up with themselves because of a bad attitude.

“I’ve had clients that have been so frustrated that they just give up on the workout instead of pushing it,” McFarland said. “If somebody is angry going into the gym, you want to make sure they’re not pressing out of their normal exertion. You don’t want them injuring themselves. I typically think that the better the mood you’re in, the better you feel about yourself, the better workout you get.”

McFarland advises those who have a bad day to take a break and get in the right mindset before working out.

After learning about the study, however, McFarland did wonder whether going to the gym to relieve stress is such a good idea after all.

“I’d definitely consider whether the gym is worth it or not on that type of day,” McFarland said. “I know that some people transfer their anger in different ways and that can make other people in the gym get in a bad mood, too. I tend to get better workouts consistently when I’m in a better mood. When I’m in a bad mood, it generally results in a less than optimal workout. Going into the gym with a bad attitude is counterproductive to what you’re trying to achieve with exercise.”

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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