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Family Sports & Fitness

When Good Exercise Turns Bad

Exercise is a good thing; taking exercise to the extreme can cause serious health issues and may be a sign of a deeper problem.

Exercise should serve its healthy purpose in your life. It shouldn’t be the center of your life. Compulsive exercise can become an unhealthy disorder when people build their lives around working out and are genuinely distressed if they can’t.

The issue has more to do with losing control than losing weight or looking good. Remember, the right amount of exercise differs for each person and should take into account your fitness level, lifestyle and current health status.

The Harm:
Excessive exercise can weaken the body and cause a list of  physical, emotional and psychological problems:
• Dehydration
• Fatigue
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Suppressed immune system
• Heart problems (such as muscle atrophy and rhythm problems)
• Arthritis
• Osteoporosis
• Stress fractures and sprains  
• Lack of menstruation and reproductive problems
• Kidney failure

The Signs:
Check with a doctor if you recognize two or more of these warning signs in yourself or others in your family:
• Continuing to exercise even when ill
• Exercising to the point of exhaustion
• Refusing to take any rest or recovery days, even when injured
• Choosing to exercise instead of going to work or enjoying social activities
  with friends or loved ones
• Never exercising for fun
• Experiencing severe stress and emotional upset, including depression,
  if unable to exercise
• Obsession with calories eaten and calories burned
• Preoccupation with burning calories throughout the day, even when not exercising

The Help:
There are treatments for the disorder including support groups, psychotherapy and medications. To seek help, talk to your doctor.

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