It’s January 1. Did you just come back from the gym?
We all know, theoretically, that too much of everything is not good. While the exact total can be debated in today’s fast-driven and demanding society, overexercising has clear signs. Working out too much is not a good problem to have. In a way, it can be just as bad for your body as not being active at all.
Exercise addiction often starts with the remarkable feeling you have when you push yourself hard to get to the next level and see the results of your sweat. Combine that with friends who constantly tell you how fit and healthy you look, and you have a recipe for disaster. All of a sudden you wake up at 4 a.m. to do cardio training before work, weight lifting in your lunch break and Zumba classes before you get home. You are constantly tired but find artificial ways to boost your energy such as drinking coffee and energy drinks all the time.
Tiredness is only one side effect of exercise addiction. You make yourself a very easy target for injuries. You give your muscles no time to recover and they will punish you for it. When a pledge to get fit translates to compulsion, you are creating a physical and mental mayhem for you and the people around you.
It doesn’t happen in a heartbeat. An addiction to training develops over time during which people lose perspective of why they should exercise in general. It becomes a lot more than a way to stay healthy.
Most experts agree that the factors that lead to exercise addiction are psychological. People who define themselves as high-achieving perfectionists are among the most susceptible. Other risky groups are people with low self-esteem who find satisfaction in training.
Test yourself. Write down a workout plan for the next seven days. Plan everything from how many miles you’ll run to what strength exercises you’ll do and the days and hours you’ll rest. At the end of the week compare what you actually did to what you scheduled.
As with any addiction, there are signs to be aware of.
1. You skip a run or a session at the gym and you feel guilty and annoyed
You need to exercise more and more to get the same effect and so workout for a lot longer than you planned. You can’t find the will to cut back a little bit and you are irritated when you have to.
2. You spend a lot of money on classes
Working out can easily be free. All you need is a park. But that’s not enough for you. You pay for fitness instructors; different spinning, aerobic and pilates classes and you don’t go out as much in order to save money and pay for them.
3. Injuries don’t stop you from heading to the gym
Your knee hurts but you are still jogging every day for an hour. You’re tired all the time but you still find yourself at the gym doing bench presses.
3. You have free time but all you do is exercise
When was the last time you went to see a movie? Or did anything else for fun with your friends? It’s not true that you have no time to spare. The problem is that you literally spend all of it working out.
4. Training is not fun anymore
If you just started hitting the gym to lose a few pounds, exercising is no fun. It eventually becomes easier and enjoyable as you have more energy and experience the benefits. Fitness enthusiasts, on the other hand, like working out. This is what training sessions should be, not a compulsive need.
5. You are at the gym when you should be with family on special occasions
It’s Christmas but you’re not helping with the preparations because you haven’t run 5K today.
6. You only feel happy when you’re training
Simple things in life like taking a break from work and spending Friday night with a dinner and a movie doesn’t compare to being at the gym pumping iron.