Excessive Exercise

While exercise has significant health benefits, you can overdo it.  How do you know if your approach to physical activity has become compulsive?  Below are some warning signs that your relationship with exercise may no longer be about health and may, instead, have become excessive:

Do you . . .

  • Continue to work out, even when you are sick?
  • Feel anxious and guilty if you skip a day of exercise?
  • No longer find exercise fun or pleasurable?
  • Turn down social activities so as not to miss your scheduled workout?
  • Get preoccupied by thoughts of exercise that interfere with your ability to focus?
  • Exercise primarily to control your weight or shape?
  • Base your food choices on your exercise level and vice versa (punish yourself by exercising more for eating “bad” foods; “allow yourself” dessert after completing a hard workout)?
  • Engage in non-purposeful exercise beyond what is sensible?
  • Base how you feel about yourself on how much or hard you exercised that day?

If you answered “yes” to several of the questions above, you may be exercising excessively, and should consider seeing a medical or mental health professional to talk through these concerns.

Remember that a healthy relationship with physical activity is one in which the exercise:

  • Rejuvenates, rather than exhausts or depletes.
  • Enhances the mind-body connection.
  • Alleviates stress instead of increasing it.
  • Provides genuine enjoyment and pleasure.

From National Eating Disorders Association (Eberle, 2004), Nutrition Info 411 (Tribole, 2010), and Daily Practices for Mindful Exercise (Calogero and Pedrotty, 2007).