How To Know If You’re Exercising Too Much
Too much physical exercise raises our risk of injury or serious physical illness, and may lead to work, school, and relationship problems.
Extreme exercise is also associated with increased onset of eating disorders. Young women who over-exercise tend to be more focused on thinness, eat more restrictive diets, and generally have greater life dissatisfaction than those with healthier exercise habits.
Signs of Over-Exercise
Noticing when an exercise routine has become unhealthy is difficult since extreme exercisers might feel good, even great, much of the time. They also may believe they are doing what is necessary to build strong lean muscle, stay thin, and excel in other sports.
However, there are plenty of red flags that signal a potentially dangerous level of exercise. If two or more of these red flags apply to you, consider speaking with a counselor or physician about your exercise habits:
Physical signs: an elevated resting heart rate, lethargy/fatigue, insomnia, deteriorating physical performance, amenorrhea (disruption of menstrual cycle), being underweight for one’s height.
Mental signs: exercising when ill (e.g., fever, cold), first thoughts in the morning are about exercise, working out in extreme or dangerous weather/temperatures, losing weight is thought more important than maintaining a healthy weight.
Emotional signs: fear of gaining weight if you can’t exercise, feeling depressed or irritable when you miss a workout, craving the feeling of an exercise “high,”
Social sign: breaking dates with family or friends to exercise more,
Effects of Over Exercise, and Treatment
Resting the body is a crucial element of healthy exercise programs. Too much activity exhausts the body since there is not enough time for it to heal between workouts. It puts a strain on the immune system by pumping stress hormones - cortisol and adrenaline - into our tissues too often. Extreme exercise can lead to sleep problems, difficulty focusing, and mood instability.
For many, the most effective way to address over-exercise is through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, individuals examine their beliefs about themselves, discover how they habitually view life, self, and others, and learn how think in more realistic and life-affirming ways.