When is Exercise too Much?
Exercising is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But, for some people, exercise can move beyond what is healthy into a disordered behavior. It is important that you can identify this in yourself and your loved ones, particularly because over-exercisers are frequently praised for their unhealthy behaviors as being motivated or driven.
Signs to look for include:
· Exercise is interfering with other parts of life (i.e. missing social engagements, skipping homework assignments, skimping on work duties in order to exercise).
· Feeling like the exercise is compulsory (i.e. feeling that you have no option but to exercise or that you can't take a day off when your body needs it).
· Exercising in inappropriate situations (i.e. exercising while others are relaxing or focused on something else, like doing squats while waiting in line).
· Exercising in secret (i.e. micro-exercise that can't be seen to others or while hidden).
· Lying about the amount of exercise that you are doing (i.e. pretending to exercise less).
· Exercising as a way of controlling a preoccupation with your body composition or muscle mass.
· Exercising in order to allow yourself to eat.
· Exercising when injured.
· Feelings of anxiety when you need to miss a workout.
If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms, it is important to talk about it and to work on redirecting the unhealthy behavior / limiting it to an amount of exercise that is healthy. This may also be a good time to look at food consumption and overall health with your doctor or dietitian. If you are working with a therapist, be honest with him or her about the over-exercise since it is an important part of the recovery process. If you aren't working with a therapist, strongly consider (and I'd recommend) making an appointment so that you can have a team working with you to help you get back on track.
Jenni Schaeffer has a handy online quiz that you can take too: http://www.jennischaefer.com/cet/