Ergogenic Aids. Effects and Health Risks

Essay, 2016

6 Pages, Grade: 1




Effects of Steroid on Athletes Performance

How Steroids Differ From the Human Growth Hormone

Health Risks of Steroid




Over the years, exercise science has evolved to introduce new dimensions into the way energy is utilized in the body. During sports activities such as athletics, cycling and swimming, endurance for long hours is necessary for the maintenance of high muscle activity. Ordinarily, body muscles are responsible for generating chemical energy which is utilized during physical activity. Therefore, energy reserves in the body tend to be depleted, especially after prolonged exposure to strenuous exercise such as running. This applies to sprinters, as well as, long-distance runners. This phenomenon is also experienced by people who engage in strenuous physical exercise, rather than sports. On the other hand, strenuous exercises including sporting activities involve a high level of dehydration. This leads to a significant loss of body fluids, as well as salts. These factors have prompted sporting people to look for remedies for energy depletion and dehydration, in order to maintain endurance in physical activities such as athletics. In theory, these remedies are referred to as ergogenic aids. The term ergogenic means ‘tending to increase work’ (Robergs, 2010). As such, an ergogenic aid can be defined as a mechanical, physical, psychological, nutritional, or a pharmacological substance that either limits physiological capacity by removing subjective restraints or directly enhances physiological variables in the body, especially those related to exercise performance (Beneke & Cooper, 2008).

According to the definition of ergogenic aids, it is apparent that steroids are considered as some of the most principal ergogenic compounds which can be used in sports. This is so because; steroids tend to increase muscle activity, especially during strenuous exercises. Ordinarily, steroids have been in clinical use as pharmacological substances for the treatment of an array of health conditions. They have also been used as nutritional supplements for enhancing hormone production, and alleviation of anxiety. This implies that steroids possess psychological functions in the body. As such, steroids are ergogenic aids, and this is why athletes are prohibited from taking steroids because they alter their actual performance by providing them with a competitive advantage. It is believed that steroids enhance exercise performance, more or less the same as other pharmacological ergogenic aids such as erythropoietin, antihistamines, caffeine, androstenedione, amphetamines, growth hormone, and ephedrine.

Effects of Steroid on Athletes Performance

Anabolic steroids are synthetic compounds which resemble androgenic hormones such as testosterone, one of the most principal male sex hormone. In theory, athletes are known to consume anabolic steroids in large quantities for both mythical and scientifically-proven purposes. It is reported that most athletes administer anabolic steroids with the hope of improving their bodily strength through gaining weight, endurance, power, and aggressiveness. These factors are believed to be the most fundamental requirements for attaining a competitive edge in sports, especially in field and track events. On the other hand, there are widespread myths among athletes about the mystery of anabolic steroids. Some of them believe that their prowess in competitions is attributable to the beneficial effects of these substances. However, there is immense controversy over the effects of anabolic steroids owing to the outcomes of different research studies. The research literature seem to be divided into two schools of thought in which some researchers believe that anabolic steroids play significant biological roles in enhancing physical performance, whereas others refute such findings. This is probably because; there are significant differences between empirical observations in the real-world and rigidly-controlled experiments. It is argued that most double-blind experiments do not use the same drug dosage that is believed to generate anabolic mechanisms in the bodies of athletes.

In reality, anabolic steroids produce similar effects to those produced by male hormones such as testosterone (Lenehan, 2003). These male hormones have two principal functions in the body: androgenic and anabolic functions; thus, they exert both androgenic and anabolic effects. Androgenic effects include the development of secondary sexual characteristics such as the enlargement of the genital organs. These hormones are also believed to increase aggressiveness as it is observed among adolescents, and even adults. On the other hand, these hormones enhance anabolic processes in the body. Some of the most significant anabolic effects of androgenic hormones include accelerated growth of bone, muscles, blood cells, and the enhancement of neural conduction.

As derivatives of androgenic hormones, anabolic steroids are synthesized to enhance anabolic properties including mass tissue build-up as it is the case with androgens. However, androgenic properties of anabolic steroids are minimized because they are intended to promote anabolic processes during sporting activities. Despite the immense efforts employed by steroid producing companies, it has been difficult to synthesize anabolic steroids which do not stimulate androgenic processes (Yesalis, 2000). This is why steroids which are associated with the highest androgenic effects are believed to produce the greatest potent anabolic effects.

From a biological perspective, steroids cause changes in body strength and muscle mass through two principal processes. In increasing muscle mass, anabolic steroids promote the production of amino acids, in order to synthesis proteins for building muscles which are involved in physical exercise. In addition, they stimulate cellular differentiation leading to the build-up of muscle mass more rapidly than fat formation. Secondly, anabolic steroids exert anti-catabolic effects in the muscles, in order to prevent protein breakdown during strenuous exercise. Ordinarily, intense exercise training is usually accompanied by protein oxidation for the generation of physical energy, in order to prevent tissue injury which is manifested through muscle inflammation. The drugs achieve this biological function by inhibiting the activity of catabolic hormones, principally cortisol. Physiological studies indicate that anabolic steroids prevent cortisol from binding to its receptors in the muscle cells; thus, reducing muscle breakdown after intense work-out (Yesalis, 2000). This explains why athletes who consume anabolic steroids are able to endure strenuous exercise for long, yet they attain recovery at a faster rate as compared to other athletes who do not consume the drugs.

On the other hand, anabolic steroids exert psychological effects on athletes. Research indicates that athletes who consume anabolic steroids train harder than those who do not use the substances without getting exhausted. In theory, anabolic steroids are believed to generate a psychosomatic state, commonly referred to as ‘steroid rush’ which is associated with increased motor skills. The psychosomatic state is characterized by increased aggressiveness, euphoria, sensations of well-being, and tolerance to stress, especially during prolonged strenuous physical exercise (Hartgens & Kuipers, 2004). Therefore, anabolic steroids enhance physical performance among athletes by increasing their endurance capacity; thus, giving them a competitive advantage.

How Steroids Differ From the Human Growth Hormone

From a biological perspective, anabolic steroids differ significantly from human growth hormone, although both serve as ergogenic aids. Over the years, an unprecedented misconception has shadowed the understanding of the differences between human growth hormone and anabolic steroids. This is attributable to the fact that both hormones promote growth and development. Secondly, these hormones are synthesized in the human body. However, anabolic steroids differ from human growth hormone, significantly. One of the most significant physiological differences is that human growth hormone do not exert its effects on localized areas as it is with anabolic steroids which cause physiological changes in the gonads, muscles and the brain. The second difference is that, human growth hormone possesses favorable health effects as opposed to the adverse side effects associated with anabolic steroids. Evidence shows that human growth hormone supplements have mild side effects which can be tolerated without health consequences.


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Ergogenic Aids. Effects and Health Risks
Egerton University
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ISBN (eBook)
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411 KB
ergogenic, athlete, sports, steroid, health risk
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Patrick Kimuyu (Author), 2016, Ergogenic Aids. Effects and Health Risks, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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