If you’re reading this, chances are that you work out. Whether it’s for a healthy lifestyle or to get in shape, exercise has many benefits and is important for your health. However, there can be a negative side to working out – here are 6 warning signs you’re over exercising. But first, let’s dive into why you exercise in the first place.

Why do you feel the need to overexercise?

Healthy exercise is a great way to improve both your physical and mental well-being, as well as maintain a healthy body. Ask yourself, why do you exercise? Be honest. Do you enjoy it? Or, do you feel guilt or shame if you miss a workout?

If your exercising is coupled with guilt and shame, you might be over exercising or doing it compulsively. If you’re exercising to purge calories, to avoid shame or guilt, or out of fear of gaining pounds, you are most likely missing out on the full benefits that exercise can give you.

How can exercise habits most benefit you?

Here is a list of some (but not all) of the ways exercise can improve your overall health:

  • increase in metabolism
  • lower blood pressure
  • more energy and vitality
  • relieve stress and mood booster
  • improve bone health
  • improve medical condition
  • improved sleep quality (if you’re over-exercising, this will be disrupted)
  • lose weight or maintain weight
  • more confidence/self-esteem (this comes with all the benefits of exercise, not just weight loss!)
  • and my favorite improved sex life!

Are you exercising too much? How much exercise is enough?

It’s important to know what over exercising is, as well as the negative side effects that can come from it.

Are 2 hours of exercise a day too much?

Over exercising has been defined by some researchers as more than an hour of cardio a day or over two hours of weight training a week. However, there are many different opinions on over-exercise… and everyone experiences over-exercise differently.

Let’s see if you experience any of these common symptoms:

  • extended or prolonged muscle soreness
  • decreased immune system
  • increased injuries
  • chronic exhaustion and irritability
  • early fatigue in your workout
  • hitting plateaus
  • low motivation to work out
  • prioritizing workouts above everything else
  • feeling guilt or shame on rest days

Are you compulsive exercising?

What is compulsive exercising? If you think about exercising a lot, particularly while doing other things, or you have very strong and frequent urges to exercise, you might have an exercise compulsion.

Compulsive exercise can be linked to psychological illnesses such as eating disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Exercise for weight control goes awry!

Exercising for any one of these reasons is wonderful in and of itself. However, when it becomes excessive, it no longer qualifies as a positive thing.

Injury, sickness, and eating issues are all increased or created.

Workouts are no longer a choice.

This is when exercise is no longer something you choose to do, but something you feel like you have to do. Compulsive exercisers may find that exercise is no longer enjoyable or that they are fit and healthy. It has now become a chore, which provides no genuine pleasure or fulfillment.

If you still can’t determine whether you exercise compulsively, let’s now turn and take a look at the negative side to working out and the 6 warning signs you are exercising too much.

The 6 warning signs you’re over exercising .

1) You have no time outside of the gym.

If you’re overworking yourself, of course, it’s going to be hard for you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You won’t have time outside the gym because your entire life is centered around working out and being at the gym – not doing what makes you happy or even relaxing after exercise!

A good rule of thumb would be no more than 150 min per week. This way you can engage in other areas of your life that are meaningful to you.

If you’re declining social interactions to focus on your training or fitness, you’ll most likely feel lonely, isolated, sad, and/or anxious. Your life will deteriorate in terms of quality.

girl in purple sweater rubbing neck 2) Your muscles are worn down from too much exercise.

Over exercising can lead to sore muscles and overtraining, which is when you work out so much that your muscles don’t have time to repair themselves. Hello, muscle strain.

Your body starts overproducing cortisol (a stress hormone) and the excess of this leads to weight gain because it has nowhere else to go but into fat cells!

Worn down muscles not only lead to muscle strains but worse, stress fractures. These overuse injuries can be avoided with regular exercise versus what can be considered an overtraining syndrome.

3) You feel guilty if you miss a workout.

As mentioned earlier, too much exercise can sometimes lead to compulsive exercise. This is when you’re overworking yourself to avoid guilt or shame of not working out.

You are driven by the fear of what will happen if you don’t do your exercise routine – this could be anything from gaining weight to missing a goal to a break up of a relationship.

Regardless, it’s all based on the idea that you’re “bad” if you miss a workout. You never consider taking a day off. Your value is based on your fitness or diet, both of which are indications of your worth as a person.

4)You have low energy after too much exercise. man laying on tennis court

When the body is physically exhausted as a result of overwork, it depletes energy rather than enhances it. Low energy leads to a lower immune system, more colds, tiredness, chronic exhaustion/irritability, and more.

If you’re not an elite athlete, there’s no need to put your body through needless stress. Ironically, a few days of rest can sometimes provide better results.

Elite athletes train the way they do to perform at their peak and win! It’s their job. But even they get exhausted and need time for recovery.

5) You only want to eat healthy foods. plate with fork and spoon and small amount of food

This same rigidity spills over into your food restrictions when you approach exercise with a “have to work out” vs. “want to work out” mentality. Eating anything that may be characterized as “unhealthy,” similar to missing a workout, can generate guilt or shame.

Orthorexia is an eating disorder that entails excessively adhering to a diet that is deemed healthy. This would be the endpoint of avoiding unhealthy foods. This preoccupation causes a lot of worries and frequently occurs alongside excessive exercise.

6) Exercise feels like an addiction.

Similar to over exercising, compulsive exercise is when you’re driven by fear instead of passion or purpose. You feel anxious if you can’t work out – which is the same feeling an addict experiences in withdrawal after they have their substance!

In addition, regardless of the “drug of choice,” an addict would typically employ exercise to avoid or numb their more profound thoughts/feelings/experiences. If you’re using exercise as a coping mechanism for or away from the more profound aspects of yourself, it may appear to be an addiction.

Addictions are also extremely difficult to quit. Not everyone in your social circle will comprehend why it’s so difficult to quit. It takes attention and an understanding that the addicting behavior is detrimental to you and others around you.

It also necessitates a significant amount of support and compassion for oneself to restore this dysfunctional pattern. But first, you must acknowledge the existence of the problem.

So, what should I do now if my exercise is too much? woman holding ankle over exercising

If you feel over exercising or compulsive exercise is an issue for you, the first thing to do is journal about it! This will give you a clearer understanding of what’s going on.

It could also be helpful to talk with your doctor or a mental health professional – if over exercising has become part of your daily routine and affects other aspects of your life negatively, now is a great time to take action.

What should I do if I think I’m overexercising or am experiencing signs that I’m working out too much?

Here are 3 ways to think about over exercising that will help you change your exercise mindset from negative and hazardous to positive and beneficial.

First, if energy levels are low and you’re feeling fatigued:

Exercise moderately and listen to your body’s needs. Your body will communicate with you what it needs for rest. Giving your body the attention it deserves rather than forcing it will provide you a lot greater return on your investment.

Give your body enough rest, drink lots of water, and look into a variety of ways to have physical activity. Having a variety of methods to exercise your body is far more gratifying than believing that the only way to stay healthy is to visit the gym.

Second, progress is measured in many ways:

Explore how exercise affects other aspects of your life, such as work, sleep, and relationships. You must understand the importance of reestablishing your priorities and placing exercise in its proper position.

You will live a lonely, irritable, and depressed life if you place exercise above everything else. Shifting away from excessively exercising, on the other hand, may lead to a joyful and complete life that you won’t want to miss out on.

Experiencing good company, being able to appreciate your job, and feeling refreshed are all ways to assess your general health.

Third, examine yourself to discover why you are “bad” for taking a rest day.

If you want to modify your connection with the exercise, you’ll need to confront this guilt and shame head-on. This is where a mental health professional can help.

You’ll need to maintain a healthy balance in your lifestyle. A day off might be the healthiest thing you do for yourself. That’s fantastic!

Finally, the bottom line is that if you don’t exercise, you have nothing to be ashamed of. You’re still the same person whether you hit the gym or not!

Here is the good news. You’ve learned the negative aspects of working out and the 6 warning signs that you might be overexercising.

The key to a healthy and life-giving relationship with exercise is understanding how much you need to maintain your mental health as well as your physical health. If this sounds like something that might be helpful, get in touch today!

Lesley would love the opportunity to help you understand if you’ve been over exercising or not enough for your own needs. You can also find more information about her services here where she offers free resources including a free masterclass called, “How To Change Your Shape and Stay that Way Without Eating Crazy Things or Killing Yourself at the Gym”.