How much is too much?
A lot of the pieces I write are designed to get people to look at their lifestyles and find ways to make healthier choices. I also try to provide motivation that will lead towards taking action to implement those choices.
The other day I got an email from a girl called Mirjana who lives in France and who was concerned that she was doing too much exercise. She had fallen in love with Les Mills classes and it had got to the point where instructors were calling her a Les Mills addict. She was a little worried that she might be over doing it. I normally motivate people into doing exercise, rather than addressing too much, so this was a shift in thinking for me.
It is an equally interesting area to discuss, and can be difficult. Our bodies are amazing things, if an increase in exercise occurs at a safe pace our bodies can adapt to massive workloads. I know many people who have exercised for well over three hours a day for several years of their life. Eventually there might be some wear and tear but generally they are healthy and they enjoy the benefits of this level of fitness.
The problematic issues around over-exercising come when we have too much of our esteem based on it. Let me explain. If the only area of your life where you get self-esteem from is exercise, you can start to make really unhealthy choices. The classic example is when people keep exercising when they have an injury and their body is telling them to stop – yet they keep going.
The esteem issue can go further than this. I have had personal experience at this. When I was competing in Ironman I got a lot of esteem from the fact that I was training at least four hours a day, some days up to eight. The esteem was really attractive so I kept moving towards it. The thing I didn’t see was how I was pulling away from everything else in my life. Eventually, my withdrawal from life ended with me breaking up with my partner which lead me into the loneliest time I have ever experienced. I had neglected all my important relationships and I felt I had no one. It was a tough time but it made me realise that I needed to have other areas in my life that could build my esteem and relationships. It was time to pull back on some of the exercise and develop myself in other areas.
It’s really hard to pull away from the area that gives you the most esteem. But for some people it’s a choice that they probably need to make. If you are one of these people have a look at the big picture in your life and see how the amount you are doing is affecting that. If you are making unhealthy decisions you may need to make some tough choices. But these choices will lead to a healthier person both physically and mentally.
If you like to exercise lots and don’t feel it’s affecting other areas of your life then go for it!
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