Wellness is not solely physical health and exercise. Wellness also includes enjoyment of food, spending time with friends, taking rest days, fostering a healthy relationship with our bodies, taking care of our mental health, and so much more. Because we often associate wellness with exercise, it’s common for folks to overdo it on exercise. It’s important to recognize over-exercise before it leads to serious negative health outcomes.

Here are some signs that you might be over-exercising: 

  • Unable to perform at same level
  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • Often have sore muscles 
  • Working out typically is associated with punishment and guilt
  • Your body feels “heavy”
  • Sleeping more than usual or difficulty sleeping
  • Getting sick more frequently
  • Mood swings
  • Getting overuse injuries

If you recognize that you are over-exercising, but have a hard time cutting back, you might be experiencing compulsive exercise or otherwise known as exercise addiction.

Here are signs of compulsive exercise:

  • Pushing through workouts when you are sick or exhausted
  • Anxious or guilty when you can’t fit it a workout
  • Your friends and family are commenting on how much you exercise
  • You are skipping work or social events to exercise
  • Exercise is your only stress management tool

Compulsive exercise can lead to some serious health conditions. If you feel like you might be struggling with your relationship with exercise, it might be time to invest in therapy. Contact us for a free phone consultation to learn more. 

So then, how do you loosen up without giving up exercise? For some people, taking a break is often necessary. This doesn’t mean you have to go cold turkey on exercise, but you might try to slowly cut back and crowd in other forms of self-care that are more gentle to your body.

Here are some other tips to avoid over-exercising:

  • Limit high-intensity exercise to 2-3 days per week
  • Vary your movement to include more gentle activities like yoga and walking
  • Let go of this mentality that if you “didn’t workout for at least 45 minutes, it doesn’t count”
  • Embrace all movement as valuable – cleaning your house, gardening, playing with your kids, etc
  • Build a toolkit of other stress management tools- calling a friend, taking a bath, deep breathing, journaling, etc.

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Other resources:

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000807.htm

https://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/on-fitness/2010/11/05/10-signs-youre-exercising-too-much