Excessive exercise may seem like an oxymoron, but it can in fact be a commonplace condition among young women. Compulsive exercisers are those who spend hours at the gym or exercise exhaustively. They often adhere to strict schedules of working out and feel enormous guilt and anxiety if they delay or miss their exercise sessions.
Different from, but often corresponding with an eating disorder, overextending one’s body by burning thousands of calories through extreme exertion can wreak havoc on various systems and cause damage to tissue, bone, cartilage and muscle. Over-exercising and eating disorders primarily focus on a person’s persistent desire to control her weight. Since many compulsive exercisers have a misrepresentation of a healthy body image and never feel thin enough, they spend hours on the treadmill or track, in place of cutting calories or purging. They use exercise as a tool for weight loss and fail to utilize it for healthy purposes such as improved sleep quality, less stress and better moods. Exercising too much can be as physically dangerous as an eating disorder because the body is harmed in the process of pushing its limitations.
So, what is a healthy amount of exercise? Fitness experts recommend that teens do around 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.
Some signs of over-exercising include fatigue, depression, injury, loss of menstrual cycle, anxiety and/or lasting soreness. Athletes and perfectionist personalities are likely candidates for over-exercising, as they’re often strict about their routines and controlling their bodies.
If you think that you or someone you know may struggle with over-exercising, here are some symptoms to watch for:
- Never satisfied with physical self
- Has lost a significant amount of weight
- Constantly preoccupied with keeping tabs on weight
- Feels overwhelming guilt for missing or skipping a work-out
- Gives up friends or fun activities because of working out
- Constantly concerned with calories
- Has difficulty relaxing
Contact your doctor and talk to your coach or school counselor about fitness and health goals if you do wrestle with these symptoms or if you have a friend who demonstrates any of these symptoms.
While some athletes must maintain strict regimens to remain active in their sports, the motives, duration, and disciplinary action applied to the exercise is what matters. Some athletes must train for vast quantities of time in order to be able to compete in their sports of choice. Experts recommend limiting training to a maximum of five days a week, with at least two to three months off per year. Cross-training in different sports is healthy because it helps athletes use different skills and avoid injury. Serious athletes should have a strong relationship with a coach or trainer who knows about nutritional needs of athletes.
For help or more information, visit: http://www.virtualpediatrichospital.org/patients/cqqa/compulsiveexercise.shtml