For some people, just the very thought of running or resistance training is exercise enough. Some people on the other hand enjoy exercise…in fact, millions of people around the world run, cycle, swim, lift weights or do some form of aerobic activity a few times each week.
However, there are some people who never seem to stop exercising. Often referred to as 'obsessive exercisers', 'exercise addicts' or 'gym junkies', these people tend to exercise excessively…often resulting in diminishing returns instead of the actual benefits associated with a healthy exercise regimen.
On average, 30 minutes of physical activity three to four times a week is ideal to not just maintain your fitness levels but also to help your body stay healthy and reduce the risk of hypokinetic diseases like hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes. An exercise addict may believe that if he/she follows a 2-hour exercise regime, he/she will become four times as fit and four times as healthy.
However, like any machine, the human body has its limits. Excessive, prolonged and frequent overloading will ultimately result in exhaustion, muscle failure and various other systemic conditions. There is a physical capacity that each of our organs is limited by and over-exercising can put excessive pressure on them, causing more harm than good.
Psychological Need for Over-Exercise
People who have an unnatural urge for excessive exercise tend to plan their lifestyle around exercise instead of the other way round. Some people believe that those who have an extreme desire to exercise (or similarly diet) may also have a strong need for control in their lives.
Just because you like to exercise, it doesn't necessarily mean you're an addict, especially if you use it as a means to some other end like staying fit, socializing, better health, and stress reduction. However, it's a good idea to occasionally stop and ask yourself "is exercise taking me away from my loved ones and family…is it isolating me from friends and colleagues?"
Athletes are quite prone to this addiction as their professional lives revolve around exercise and sports. However, it's actually more related to an individual's personality and psychology rather than a profession. No matter what the situation or issue there is, their first priority will be to exercise.
Some Warning Signs…
Accident/infection prone: Excessive exercisers seem to have an increased risk of injuries due to sprains, pulls or strains. This is due to the fact that the body has not had enough time to recover from the various sessions or bouts of exercise. They may also be more susceptible to infections due to lowering of immunity in the body due to prolonged and frequent physical exertion. Always try build a day's rest into your exercise routine.
Exercise routine becomes obsession: When you start dealing with exercise as a mission rather than a means to feel and look good, and fall into extreme guilt or depression when you are unable to meet the goal, it's a clear sign that something is wrong and you very well may be exercising too much.
Disturbed sleep patterns: When you are unable to sleep well or sleep at all, check if it is not caused by excessive workouts. When you are over-exercising, it affects your regular sleep habits and considering your muscles mostly recover when you fall into a long deep sleep, the detrimental effects of excessive exercise can quickly become a lot worse.
Disturbed menstrual cycle: If a woman suddenly notices changes in her menstrual cycle which cannot be attributed to any other health causes, then over-exercise could be a contributing factor. Excessive exercise can result in a low body fat percentage which can cause the onset of amenorrhea (defined as the absence of a menstrual period in a woman of reproductive age). This can further lead to serious health conditions such as osteoporosis.
Why Nutrition Is Key…Even For Normal Exercise Routines
A balanced diet containing the right blend of nutrients and vitamins forms the basis of every successful exercise routine. Nutrition helps in the muscle building and body repair processes. Let's look at the various dietary components which form the core of a balanced exercise diet.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body. They are critical for muscle building and repair. These are available from sources such as poultry, fish, red meat etc. Carbohydrates provide energy to perform regular every day activities. They also help with the protein and fat conversions in the body. Simple carbohydrates are obtained from fruits, vegetables and dairy products while cereals, bread and whole grains are sources of complex carbohydrates.
Regular intake of fat is also essential for the body. Omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are important for many different systemic functions in the body. Small amounts of saturated fat are good for you too, because saturated fat helps support important functions such as the endocrine and reproductive systems.
Amino acids are the core of proteins. Essential amino acids such as L-tyrosine, L-methionine, L-carnosine, Taurine, L-arginine, and L-glutathione are not only needed by the body, they also help with the support, function and repair of muscles post-exercise and recovery. Since they are not produced by the body, you need to ingest them via their food sources, namely red meat, poultry and eggs or via supplements containing the right formulation of these amino acids and other beneficial ingredients for health and wellbeing.
By understanding the risks associated with excessive exercise, developing a sensible balanced exercise routine and ensuring that you nourish your body with the above mentioned amino acids, nutrients, vitamins and other ingredients, you'll be right on your way to a fitter, leaner, and healthier you.
Xtend-Life's Total Balance range and Omega 3 Fish Oil products are specially formulated products containing complex and comprehensive ingredients that work synergistically to help support and nourish the body. Some of Xtend-Life's customers have even reported faster recovery times, less pain and stiffness, as well as more energy when taking these supplements as part of their exercise regimen. Drinking adequate amounts of water, eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep are all factors that help the body recover and cope with regular exercise.