5 Dangers of Compulsive Exercise

by Head Health Nutter on March 14, 2013

Have you made exercise too important to your life? Today guest blogger, Leon Harris, warns us of some of the health repercussions of compulsive exercising and suggests how we can find out if we are placing too much emphasis on our physical health.  

Most people would love to have the urge to exercise compulsively, since a much more widespread problem is a lack of motivation to get up and move in the first place. But just like people can fail to get an appropriate amount of exercise, they can also overdo it. Both extremes are unhealthy over the long haul; you need to strike a balance.

Of course, professional athletes are bound to train more than the average person simply because they get paid to remain in peak physical condition. But then again, many only plan to be an athlete for a short time (10-20 years, if that) before they retire and move on to another occupation. This may have something to do with the dangers inherent in extreme exercise regimens.

If you happen to spend far more than the amount of time recommended for daily or weekly workouts, you could be engaged in compulsive exercise, and there are a few potential problems you should know about.

1. Injury

Perhaps the most obvious concern when you go overboard with exercise is that you will have an accident and/or injure yourself. This is common even with regular physical exertion, but when you push your body to the absolute limits of exhaustion you can significantly increase the probability of injuring yourself. Any misstep when your muscles are fatigued can lead to sprains, strains, and even broken bones, which means healing and recovery time that will set you back where your fitness goals are concerned. If you want to avoid this likelihood it’s important to heed the advice of doctors and fitness experts (your trainer, for example), not to mention listening to warnings from your body.

2. Dehydration

Everyone knows that the average person should drink eight glasses of water a day. But when you’re working out like crazy you’re losing a lot of fluid through sweat, which means you need to replace it. However, drinking water might not be enough to save you from dehydration, because sweating also depletes electrolytes, some of which help your body to retain water. The result is that you can become dangerously ill if you fail to properly hydrate.

3. Malnutrition

When your schedule includes extended, hardcore workouts, your dietary requirements will change, not only in terms of the calories you must take in to compensate for those you’re burning, but also concerning the types of food you eat. For example, your muscles rely on protein to repair themselves following damage (such as the tearing sustained through weight lifting or other physically demanding exercise). Unless you adjust your diet accordingly you could be depriving yourself of the nutrients needed for optimum health.

4. Infertility

You might have heard that exercise can help you to drop a few pounds in order to fight infertility issues and prepare your body for conception. Unfortunately, over-exercising can have the opposite effect, pushing your body into a state where it is not primed for pregnancy. This holds true for men, as well, who can also experience fertility problems based on their state of fitness.

5. Psychological issues

Something you really need to ask yourself when you work out compulsively is whether or not your motivations are healthy. Those who exercise to extreme could have psychological issues for doing so. In some cases, anorexia, bulimia, or body dysmorphic disorder could be contributing to the compulsion, in which case an eating disorder treatment center might be necessary. Or you might be suffering from OCD. If you feel like you are compelled to push yourself to the point of exhaustion when you work out, for whatever reason, you might want to talk to a qualified specialist so that you can get the help you need to regulate your exercise and approach physical activity in a healthy way.

About the Author

Leon Harris is a contributing writer for Health Testing Centers. Harris lives in Southern California, and enjoys eating healthy and exercising with his two Golden Retrievers.

When I started this blog, I was at my peak physical condition, the strongest I’ve ever been in my entire life. However, looking back, I now recognize that I most likely became a little obsessed with both exercise and “clean” eating for awhile there. Have you ever experienced compulsive exercising? 

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