Are You Too Addicted To Exercise? Here’s How To Know And What To Do

exercise, over-exercising, unhealthy

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Written by: Kat Gal

Exercise is a joy for many and drag for others. There is no question though that exercise is non-negotiable for your overall health and well-being.

But there is such thing as too much of a good thing. There is such thing as too much exercise. Working out obsessively for unnecessary hours, ignoring pains, injuries, fatigue, relationships, work and other obligations is not healthy.

Exercise can turn into over-exercise, an obsession or an addiction.

If you ever feel guilty when you have to skip a workout or think that you may just love it too much, read on.

Even if you are new to working out or have a tough time keeping up with a regular workout routine, you should still read on for how to find passion for exercise without slipping into a cycle of obsession.

Know that no matter what your relationship with exercise is right now – love it, love it too much, tolerate it or hate it – you can develop a healthy, happy and balanced relationship with working out.

Let’s see what over-exercising is and how to overcome it.

Over-Exercise Can Be Defined As, But Is Not Limited To:

  • When you exercise above and beyond what would be considered normal. What’s normal depends on the individual. If you are just starting to workout, ‘normal’ is different for you than for an active teen or an otherwise fit pregnant woman or a professional athlete, for example.
    • Research shows and government guidelines agree that 30 minutes a day 5 days a week can make a difference in your health and is the suggested minimum. Generally speaking, moving for 30-90 minutes a day is likely healthy for you, but 5-6 hours is not.
    • For athletes, training requires multiple and usually rigorous workouts a day and means prolonged training above and beyond required for a sport. Talk to your coach, trainer or exercise instructor for guidelines for healthy amount of exercise.
  • You refuse to take rest and recovery days and exercising even when dealing with an illness or injury.
  • You have a rigid and inflexible attitude toward your exercise schedule, not willing to change your routine.
  • You have an excessive concern with the looks of your body or sports nutrition or deprive yourself of food to achieve a ‘good body.’
  • Exercise is your only way to cope with stress and/or to control your life.
  • You are experiencing symptoms of overtraining syndrome, such as plateau or decline in your performance or results and/or experiencing nagging injuries.
  • You prioritize exercise over family, other relationships, school and work. You may even neglect responsibilities.
  • You push yourself obsessively and have unrealistic expectations.
  • You are not able to enjoy exercise that is not ‘hardcore’ or is just for fun such as a stroll with a friend or a light bike ride with your kids.
  • You are losing your love for exercise, yet you are unable to stop or lower your intensity. 

Over-Exercise Can Lead To:

  • Over-training syndrome when athletic performance and the benefits from exercise plateau or decline
  • Injuries occur frequently; overuse injury occur
  • Fatigue, including chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Mineral and vitamin deficits
  • Compromised immune system
  • Chronic inflammation and chronic pain
  • Hormonal disturbances
  • Loss of period or irregular cycle in women
  • Anemia
  • Compromised mental health, including depression, anxiety and changes in one’s personality
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Exercise addiction
  • Eating disorder 

How to Overcome Over-exercising And How To Stop It Before It’s Happening:

  1. Take an honest look at yourself and do an assessment of your exercise habits and your relationship with working out.
  2. Talk to a professional trainer, coach, or exercise instructor for recommendations on a good routine. Get advice from a dietitian or health coach to create a healthy diet that supports your workout routine.
  3. Get an accountability buddy. Having someone to keep you accountable and to cheer you on can help you stick with a workout routine and keep you accountable about not over-exercising.
  4. Confront your fears around not exercising. A counselor, therapist, life coach or health coach can help you with any obsessive need to workout or fear to stop.
  5. Try yoga, breathing exercises or meditation if you exercise to relieve anxiety, to feel in control, or to reduce stress.
  6. Take a rest if you need to, especially if you are injured or dealing with an illness. Always schedule rest days.
  7. Mix up your exercise routine with cardio, strength training, cross training, stretching and days off.
  8. If you struggle with body image, disordered eating or other issues around food, get involved in a support group to help you overcome negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with positive ones. A counselor, therapist or life coach can help you with this too. 

If you experience symptoms of over-exercising, don’t be ashamed. You are not alone. The sooner you recognize the problem, the easier it will be to get through it.

You can enjoy a healthy amount of exercise without any obsession and without overdoing it. You can develop and maintain a healthy and happy relationship with exercise, enjoy healthy food, love yourself and live a balanced life. We are here to support you.

Have you ever experienced an unhealthy relationship with exercise? How did you overcome it or how are you currently working on overcoming it? Share your tips and stories below, we would love to hear from you.

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Kat Gal

Kat Gal

Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
Kat Gal
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