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Teenage Girls in China Hospitalised with Kidney Damage After Doing Too Many Squats

The duo did over a 1,000 squats in a competitive challenge and woke up with aching legs and brown urine the next day.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
Squat challenge causes kidney damage
Photo via Unsplash

The benefits of squats may be nothing short of incredible, going a long way in sculpting a toned butt and legs. But sometimes, seemingly harmless activities can do some serious damage. At least that’s what two teenage girls in China learnt the hard way after a competitive squat challenge caused them kidney damage.

According to reports in China Press, one of them named Xiao Tang, a 19-year-old-student from Chongqing in China, challenged her friend to do as many squats as they could over video chat. The two girls, who weren’t used to exercising in general, sweated it out for several hours in a bid to be crowned squat queen and ended up doing over a 1,000 squats before they both mutually gave in. They went to bed feeling sore and tired, something that naturally happens to one’s body when one is not used to exercising so much and then overdoes it at once. Except, they both woke up the next morning in aching pain, unable to bend their legs and more shockingly, peeing brown urine. Turns out, their squatting battle had caused some serious kidney damage. The girls were then rushed into the intensive care unit of the local hospital, where they were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a serious skeletal muscle injury, and immediately hooked to an IV.


Now, this doesn’t mean that you use this excuse to get out of your fitness schedule. Squats are one of the best body-toning activities, but as with any kind of exercise, they shouldn't be done in excess, especially when your body isn’t used to it. Even so, the 1,000 squat challenge is a fairly common internet exercise challenge. A quick search on YouTube will yield results showing fitness influencers like Cassey Ho challenging themselves and you to squatting a 1,000 times over, and even if you scour the comment section, you’ll see that many people manage to do it and get away with it. But it’s also important when taking on such challenges, to make sure you’re already in good shape, drink enough water loaded with electrolytes and vitamins and gradually increase the number of squats you do per session. But since these two girls jumpstarted their stationary bodies to take on a task that went beyond the moderate exercise routine, they ended up suffering from rhabdomyolysis, which releases dead muscle fibres into the bloodstream and can not only cause kidney failure but also lead to death. This means that their body became unable to remove all its toxins, leading to the girl’s pee turning muddy.

While such a condition is rarely caused by extreme exercise, as Dr Bruce Cohen, a medical officer for the FBI told Live Science, it is likely that overexerting your body beyond its physical capabilities can cause the condition. It is routinely treated by pumping intravenous fluids into your system to maintain proper urine production and prevent your kidneys from failing, but dialysis may also be given to flush out the waste material externally while the patient is in recovery. It’s good to remember Cohen’s advice and exercise caution, not just with squatting but with everything in life: “Listen to your body. Don't be stupid."

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This article originally appeared on VICE IN.