Exercise is good, right? Sure, but too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Any behavior can develop into an addiction.
It is important to note that addictions are not just reserved for people who drink, gamble or smoke too much. When your exercise routine shifts from something enjoyable to something that controls you, the negatives can far outweigh the positives.
Here are five sure ways to know that it is time to take a serious look at your exercise regime and consider the implications it has on not only your physical health but also your emotional health.
You Need More and More
If you find yourself constantly craving longer and more intense workouts, it is possible that you have developed somewhat of an addiction to exercising. Exercise releases endorphins that make us feel good about ourselves.
If you have switched into “runners high” mode, it is easy and necessary to work harder and often longer to achieve the same amount of satisfaction from each workout. If it is hard for you to hold back and pace yourself, it may be time to reevaluate your fitness regime
Canceling Plans with Family and Friends
Do you cancel plans to meet with family and friends for your workouts? Is it next to impossible for you to skip a workout without becoming irritable or anxious? If you regularly miss family functions or gatherings with friends, refusing to reschedule a workout, it is possible that your exercise is in control of your life.
The human body is an amazing machine, but it can only stand so much stress. Constant work with little rest generally results in injury. When injury occurs it is essential to take a break and allow the body time to heal. Repeated use of an injured body part results in only more damage and negative long term health consequences.
If you do not give yourself the appropriate time to heal after injury, but instead choose to push through the pain, it will invariably result in more damage. Not taking the appropriate time off to heal injuries is one sign that your exercise may be controlling you.
Overuse of Assessment and Monitoring Tools
There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to keep track of your progress. A gym log, heart monitor, pace watch, etc. are all excellent tools to help you reach both your short and long term fitness goals.
However, these tools can also become whips and chains that force you to perform at a level that is unhealthy. Unless you are training for the Olympics, it is wise to keep these tools in check. If your workouts are always about beating your “last best”, the joy may be taken out of them. Just be mindful of how you use these tools and don’t become consumed with measurement.
How do you feel when you don’t exercise? While it is healthy to exercise as consistently as possible, it is unhealthy to let your anxiety about missing a workout run your day. You will know that you are experiencing withdrawal if you get agitated, anxious or just plain mean if you miss even one day of exercise.
Take note of how you feel the next time you miss a workout. Are you able to say, “oh well, I will do it tomorrow?” Or are you full of tension and even rage if you don’t get your gym time in?
Remember, exercise is a tool that should be used wisely to achieve better health, not a life sentence!
-The Alternative Daily