It is a popular message that exercise is very good for the body. However, only a few people talk about the damaging effect of excessive exercising. Studies have revealed that an obsession with exercise can adversely affect your physical performance as well as your mental health. The question now is how does one determine when exercise becomes an obsession.
1. You Prioritize Workout Over Social Functions
According to Bonnie Marks, a psychologist, if exercise begins to affect your relationships or if you begin to spend more of your time training than socializing with people, that might be an indication that your workout has become unhealthy.
A trained sports psychology consultant, Joel Minden, also stated that it might, however, be difficult to categorize it as a problem due to the fact that there are several ways through which a devotion to exercise can usually be rationalized. He added, for instance, that a person who is training to participate in a race may consider bailing out on weekend social gatherings with friends as a necessity.
2. You Put Your Health At Stake
According to Marks, people who have become obsessed with workouts do not take a break even when they obviously need to. Marks added that when such people get injured, they do not stop but keep on exercising. This refusal to take a break when the body needs it could lead to piled-up injuries, exhaustion, excessive weight loss and even depression.
A better approach to working out includes observing when your body needs to rest and taking a couple of days off. If you do not do this, you might end up injuring yourself and you will be left with no option than to stay off exercise for weeks.
3. You Begin To Use Exercise As An Escape
If rather than facing serious issues, exercise becomes your way to avoid dealing with them, that could be a sign that exercise has become an obsession for you. Although there is truth in the fact that exercising can be a very effective avenue to relieve stress, it shouldn’t be a way to wriggle out of dealing with important life issues. Marks noted that when some people face anxiety or depression issues , exercise may become addictive as they begin to use it as a coping mechanism.
4. You Have Turned Exercise To A Drug
A lot of people often say exercise serves as their drug. Minden noted that such belief is an indication of the reinforcement of hormonal responses in the face of exercise.
University of Oxford researchers found that exercise transcends the release of endorphins. That is so because what is called runner’s high causes the production of chemicals similar to drugs. Minden also said that there might be a problem when you begin to seek the rush of the feelings you get from exercising putting everything else in your life at stake.
5. You Tend To Track And Overanalyze Every Detail And Event
Tracking your sleep, water, food and the number of times you workout is possible. However, Marks noted that excessive tracking is bad when people become so obsessed with losing weight. She noted that making this your motivation rather than the feeling you get from exercising can be an indication that your workout has become an unhealthy obsession. As such, if you are becoming excessively fixated on how many steps you take daily or you are beginning to unnecessarily try to beat your previous benchmarks, then you may need to have a reevaluation of strategy.
6. You Practically Live At A Gym
Going to the gym isn’t a bad thing, but taking it to the extreme by literally living there is an issue and you need to take things easy. Minden advises paying attention to whether you keep on working out even when the cons evidently outweigh the pros. Such cons include you not having time for other things, injuries, and exhaustion.
If you realize that you exhibit any of the above signs, the appropriate solution is dependent on how severe the signs are and the specific causes. According to Minden, the solution might be a mere replacement of your workout activity with a different activity that gives room for balance. This could be an activity with a lower intensity such as talking a walk with your friends.
However, this might not be the ideal solution for a person whose reason for excessive exercising is because they have a distorted image about their body. In that case, going to see a clinical psychologist with a specialty in eating disorder and exercise compulsion might be a better idea.