What Does Over-Exercising Mean?

on April 13, 2012

Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. This is true with many aspects of life, and exercise is no exception. It may not seem possible, but over-exercising is a problem that can be harmful to your health. What exactly does over-exercising mean? Keep reading and find out.

Health trend. Exercising for weight loss and weight management has become more popular than ever. Gym memberships are plentiful, and new gyms are popping up everywhere. Striving for health and fitness is an admirable goal. When the efforts are extreme, however, it loses its original purpose and becomes something else (besides fitness).

Compulsive exercise. A healthful hobby, such as running, taken to its extreme is considered a form of compulsive exercise. The initial desire for fun, fitness and health can morph into an exercise addict — in a sense. According to the Mayo Clinic, while exercise has many positive benefits, too much can be harmful — and even a form of nonpurging bulimia.

How do you know a good habit has gone bad? Look for signs of incessant exercise. In the case of a runner, that person may squeeze runs in very early and is never home for more than a few minutes before he's off running again. If a run cannot be accomplished, there will be more than typical discontent. A compulsive exerciser will be irritable and anxious when she cannot run. Running will cease to be fun and pleasurable but mandatory. Additional warnings signs of over-exercise to include:

  • Never skipping a workout
  • Working out when sick or inured
  • Lack of enjoyment from exercise
  • Anxiousness at the thought of missing a workout
  • Preoccupation with fitness, weight and exercise routine
  • Significant weight loss
  • Misses time with friends and family
  • Never satisfied with achievements
  • Self worth based on training and exercise
  • Making up for missed session by doubling up time and intensity
  • Exercises more after eating more
  • Won’t sit still for fear that calories aren’t being burned

Those vulnerable to over-exercise. Some people exercise too much simply because they do not know any better. Perhaps a trainer is training them too hard, or they are pushing themselves to achieve. Perfectionists are apt to over train and over exercise. Sometimes people with obsessive-compulsive disorder will become obsessive over-exercisers.

Anorexia athletica and bulimia. A compulsion to exercise taken to an even greater extreme may be considered a form of body dysmorphic disorder or an eating disorder. Only a doctor can diagnose someone with a disorder, but the signs are something anyone is capable of noticing. Mayo Clinic describes the person suffering with nonpurging bulimia as having an addict’s frame of mind and a preoccupation with food, calories, body shape and weight. The choice to exercise is replaced by a compulsion to do so. Guilt and anxiety pile on when the exercise cannot be performed. You might see a person with anorexia athletica running in extreme weather conditions, working out regardless of injury or illness, or missing out on many fun opportunities with friends and family.

Over-exercising can cause harm. The body is a tough machine, but like any overworked machine, things can go wrong and break. Over-exercising may lead to physical and psychological harm, states the Mayo Clinic. Some of the potential hazards include:

  • Damage to tendons, ligaments, cartilage, joints and bones
  • Minor injuries that lead to long-term damage
  • Destruction of muscle mass
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Amenorrhea in women (loss of period)
  • Osteoporosis (premature bone loss)
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Stress on the heart
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Negative self-image
  • Social problems
  • Academic problems
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Fixation on exercise alone
Found in: Fitness