Too much of a good thing can be bad for you! Yes, in this case we are talking about exercise. Exercise addiction is real, and we’ll guide you through how to overcome it.
While there are all kinds of reasons why you should put on your running shoes or lift those weights, you do need to be careful.
Like many things in life, exercise can become an addiction, and despite the benefits, you may do yourself more harm than good.
Could You Be Addicted To Exercise?
The following are warning signs you need to be aware of.
1. You’re Pissed Off When You Skip A Workout
If you miss a workout, you start to feel anxious and irritable.
You feel guilty for not keeping up with your regular routine, and you berate yourself for it.
2. Exercise When Sick
You exercise regardless of how you are feeling. So, tired, sick, or injured, you push yourself onwards, putting yourself at further risk of an ongoing health issue.
3. Overthinking About Your Workout
You are constantly thinking about exercise, and planning your next workout.
While this is not harmful in itself, it can restrict your life when you are supposed to be concentrating on other aspects of your life, including work and family.
4. Use Your Workouts To De-Stress
Exercise is a great stress-reliever, but if you are using this as a coping mechanism for all the stressful events in your life (and the associated emotions), you need to find other ways to deal with the difficulties you are facing.
5. You’re Always Away From Home
You are never home, as you are always out on a run/walk/sporting activity in your spare time. As mentioned earlier, this will affect your family.
Exercise is good for you, but like any addiction, it can withdraw you from the people who matter in your life.
6. Exercise To Change Your Body Image
Many people are driven to exercise because of mental conditions, such as perceived body image and weight disorders.
Exercise can become an unhealthy behaviour as a consequence of these. And as is true for so many sufferers, will never be enough to counteract the pressures going on in the mind.
7. You Don’t Take Days Off
You are always exercising, and feel restless if you don’t.
On holiday, you feel compelled to run along the beach, rather than spending some time relaxing. When you’re at work, you exercise during your breaks. At home, you are always looking for ways to stay in shape.
Rest and relaxation time don’t come easy to you.
8. For You, Exercise Isn’t A Fun Activity Anymore
Exercise has lost its fun factor. You do it because you should; something you must-do, even when you don’t necessarily feel like it.
The Dangers Of Exercise Addiction
As alluded to above, there are specific dangers associated with too much exercise. For example:
1. Can Hurt Yourself
You will cause yourself further injury and pain if you push yourself too hard. And in some cases, cause yourself untold amounts of damage that could limit your exercise permanently.
2. Can “Hurt” Your Family
You won’t have the time to focus on the other important areas of your life, and your social, working and family life will suffer as a result.
3. Damage Your Mind
Rest is as important as exercise, but if you have an unhealthy balance towards the latter, you will burn yourself out mentally as well as physically, especially if you inflict pressure on yourself to “just keep going.”
4. Can Lose Your Sense Of Fun
You will lose your sense of fun. Exercise will become an all-consuming and serious affair, and the idea of leisure time will become a thing of the past.
5. Your Body Might Suffer In The Long Run
Your health issues will take second place to exercise. By ignoring the mental, emotional and physical problems you may be going through, perhaps by substituting exercise as a solution, you will suffer in the longer term.
How To Overcome Exercise Addiction
Unlike other addictions such as smoking and drug-taking, exercise isn’t something you should quit.
Exercise is good for you, but you do need to cut down. Take these actionable steps:
1. Use Technology To Track Yourself
Track your exercise using wearable sensors for body movement. This useful tech will let you know when you’re pushing yourself too hard, thus reducing chances of injury.
2. Cut Your Exercise Time
You shouldn’t go “cold turkey” by quitting exercise entirely, but you can take steps to reduce the amount you do in a day.
Perhaps do one hour of running instead of two, and fill in any vacant exercise time with other less-body intensive activities to distract you.
3. Find Excuses To Exercise Less
Remind yourself why you need to cut down on exercise.
Consider your family, for example, or remember the times when your body hurt because you pushed yourself too far.
4. Switch Things Up
Try a different form of exercise. So, if running is your thing, mix things up with something else, such as yoga or dance.
This way you’ll take away the urgency to obsess over one type of keep-fit activity.
5. See Your Doctor
Speak to a doctor. He/she may advise counselling, perhaps with cognitive therapy to help you get over your exercise addiction.
Don’t Stop Exercising!
We aren’t telling you to give up exercise in its entirety, but we all have limits.
By understanding the warning signs and following our tips on overcoming the problem, you will cut down the dangers associated with it.
If you have identified with any of the above, we wish you every success in getting through the exercise addiction, which is very common amongst keep-fit “fanatics”.
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