Do you suffer from a fitness addiction?

We typically associate fitness with health. To be fit is to be healthy, right? But is there a point where we can take fitness too far? And past health?

As with anything else, being excessive can be detrimental. You may be thinking, but how can exercise be a bad thing? There are 3 situations I want to discuss on how exercise can be a problem.


1. Competitive exercise.

2. Endurance sports.

3. Exercise addiction.

1) Competitive exercise

e.g. CrossFit, Spartan races

I fully endorse competitive exercise. Healthy, fair sport is a great way to push yourself and be social at the same time. The problem can enter when trying to get ready for competition. Training times lengthen and rest times and days become less.

When there is heavy exercise, there is a build-up of the hormone cortisol in the body.

When this hormone hangs around, because there is not enough rest, it creates a state of chronic inflammation. With inflammation it becomes harder for the body to repair itself, the immune system weakens, you may have cravings for unhealthy foods and you may become fatigued or hurt more easily.

If you know you have a competition coming up, remember to take rest days.

It will serve you better to train efficiently by properly resting. This way you will perform better and feel better, as the cortisol levels clear. (And be less likely to injure yourself, yuck!) And your health will thank you for it in the long run.

Are you addicted to fitness, or just competitive _22) Endurance sports

Long distance running or competing in races like triathlons can also add wear and tear on the body.

In the same way that you can workout too much, performing cardiovascular based exercise for long amounts of time (over 30 minutes) produces large amounts of cortisol. Cortisol is also associated with muscle wasting.

If you compete in an endurance race, make sure you get ample rest afterwards before you start exercising again so that you can clear cortisol from your body. I’d advise against competing in consecutive long-distance events because of the excess wear it puts on your body. Even if you don’t see it on the outside, cortisol can be causing problems within.

3) Exercise Addiction

The effects of cortisol.

This is where you can truly get into trouble. When you begin to feel like you cannot go without exercise, or you have to exercise for longer periods of time, rest no longer takes priority for you. When rest is not part of your vocabulary, your body can no longer recover from your workouts. Cortisol builds up and can start to wreak havoc. Excess cortisol can lead to belly fat accumulation, problems with sleep, fatigue, getting sick more often and being more prone to injury.

But the real issue here is the addiction.

Why are you using exercise as a crutch? Exercise is healthy, but most importantly in healthy proportion to rest. Your body needs rest, especially after a hard workout. And if you wait until you are no longer sore (excluding cardio) to have your next workout, you will see greater gains more quickly.

This is something that you need to get to the bottom of or find help from someone who is qualified in psychological care.

Workout, if you get sore then rest, and then back at it once your body has healed. Smart exercise is the healthiest.

Connect with Expert Dr. Kristin Shay

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