Fitness in the City - Too much of a good thing

CAN a person actually overexercise to a point that the obsession can harm both health and mind?

Apparently yes, and it does affect a segment of hardcore workout ­fanatics. In fact, some weeks ago, I wrote about ­exercise being like a drug.

Addicts report feeling intense anxiety if they are unable to exercise.

Those engaging in excessive exercise may plan out their day with exercise as the prime focus, scheduling other activities around their workouts.

They may reduce their social, school and work activities in order to exercise. They often have significant problems functioning on the interpersonal, occupational, and academic level.

Excessive exercising is, in some ­cases, an often-overlooked component of ­psychological issues.

For both males and females, ­participation in athletics and ­attempts at improving athletic performance can often trigger an eating disorder.

The act of overexercising can even increase anxiety and stress. Excessive e­xercisers report that they often feel like they are not good enough, not fast enough, or not pushing themselves hard enough during a workout session.

They report feeling an intense ­pressure to increase the duration, intensity or ­difficulty of their exercise routine. At the same time, they enjoy the ­euphoria of accomplishment after a session.

In some extremes, the feeling of muscle soreness post-workout becomes a goal, instead of a natural result. So much so that it becomes an ­addiction.

They may miss out on promotions at work, or lose their jobs, or damage their relationships as the result of their fixation on exercise.

Even in the face of danger, exercise ­addicts will continue to ­exercise. ­They will even feel the need to exercise in the face of physical injuries, such as recent bone fractures.

Exercise abuse is most dangerous when an addict is injured or ­ill, as those who push past their ­limits will not think twice about powering through their illness to finish a workout.

In some extreme cases, ­exercise addicts will even remove the cast from their leg in order to continue exercising.

As many as 10% of high-performance runners, and possibly an equal number of bodybuilders, have an exercise addiction.

While just 30 minutes a day of moderate ­physical activity is enough to help prevent things like diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, for most of these people, a daily exercise session can run anywhere between two to six hours, or even longer!

Exercise addicts tend to think that a workout that is one set less will make them weaker. It doesn't work that way.

Too much exercise can lead to injuries, exhaustion, depression, and a low quality of well-being. It can also cause lasting physical harm.

Your adrenal gland, pumping out ­hormones as you pound the pavement, can only ­produce so much cortisol (stress-­suppressing hormone) at a time.

Suddenly, the heartbeat you'd lowered to a resting 48 is up to 80. Your stamina ­improves, and you can now run for two hours, then three hours. But you still can't ­improve your 10K times.

Excessive exercise, like extreme diets, ­attracts people who feel a need for control in their lives. But it should be made clear that too much of something never ­translates to a good thing.

Hardcore exercisers need to realise that a missed workout session due to injury or illness does not mean that their gains and strength will be stunted.

In fact, starting a workout before the body has had time to recover will not bring any positive results at all.

The body may be self-healing, but like the heart, healing takes time, so don't push it.

Remember, everything in moderation is still the best way to go.

Let's be fit!

Jonathan Tan is the club manager of the Sports Toto Fitness Centre at Berjaya Times Square. He can be contacted at