EXERCISE is a major weapon in the fight against obesity and the many health-related problems it causes. A person who does not exercise has a low level of physical fitness, with a higher risk of developing health issues. Those who exercise moderately experience some physical and health benefits, while regular exercise provides the best health advantage. At what point does the body reach an exercise balance? How much should a person exercise, and when does exercising cease to be beneficial? The recommended amount of exercise recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity weekly, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, combined with strength training exercises twice a week, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day. Moderate aerobic exercise includes swimming, walking rapidly, or mowing the lawn. Vigorous aerobic exercise includes running and jogging. Strength training can range from push-ups and leg squats to using free weights and weight machines. Unfortunately, our society, with its progressive automation of work and leisure, has made moving nearly obsolete. Most urbanites can get by daily without much movement. How crazy is that! However, there are those who actually exercise more than two hours daily, seven days a week. So what is the tipping point where exercise becomes a hazard rather than benefit? Taking a look at athletes in general, most of them start their career in their early teens, and by their 30s, it’s the tipping point of retirement. The body just can’t push and maintain excellence beyond that age. Zen masters have been preaching moderation, which applies to exercise, too. Overworking the body without allowing it time to rest can have wide-ranging repercussions. Exercise makes our bodies weak. It’s an odd process, but its true. After all, exercise is the repetitive breaking down and regeneration of the muscles that eventually makes the body stronger and healthier. However, a preoccupation or obsession with exercise, to the degree that it interferes with your ability to focus or concentrate, is known as ‘compulsive exercise’. Compulsive exercisers may exhibit the following warning signs: ► an obsession to exercise, even if it means skipping classes or missing work; ► turning down social activities that conflict with a scheduled workout; ► feeling guilty, anxious, or angry when they can’t exercise; ► refusing to rest, despite illness or injury; and ► the consistent need to monitor every exercise detail either by way of apps or wearables. Compulsive exercise is sometimes associated with eating disorders, which put people at risk for conditions like menstrual irregularities, electrolyte abnormalities and accelerated loss of bone density, which can lead to injury, stress fractures and osteoporosis. For some people, over-exercising is a way to either achieve or maintain an unrealistic body image. For others, it’s a way to over-compensate and release negative feelings like anger, anxiety, and depression. What began as the pursuit of fitness goal achievement and pleasure has turned into an unhealthy obsession. What would be the best way to counter the habit of over exercising? Since most over-exercisers repeat their routines, one way to breaking the cycle is by changing exercise habits. These include switching or alternating activites, not keeping records of the duration or reps they perform, or by gradually reducing the frequency, duration, and intensity of the exercise. Reducing your exercise time will allow you to increase involvement in other areas of your life. Start spending time with friends, take up gardening or a new hobby, or go read a book. It is great to be fit and healthy. The ultimate key to healthy living is maintaining balance. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.