Exercise – Are we over doing it?

If you’re like me, you might have been through a period of time where working out was an essential part of your day.

Every. freaking. day.

Awesome. Yes. Working out and being physically active feels great. It’s exhilarating. Energizing. Exciting, You name it.

Or at least it has the potential to be.

What happens, though, when it becomes excessive. What happens when we no longer just want to run or sweat, but instead NEED to. I’ll tell you from experience, it’s suffocating. It’s being trapped and not having a way out. It’s relying or turning to physical activity for every emotion, spare minute, or thought you have.

Because I can tell you this, if you’re constantly thinking about your exercise….what other thoughts are getting pushed aside?

A lot of us work out for various reasons. What drew me in was how energizing it was, how stress-releasing it was, and [no surprise here] what it does for me physically.

Don’t get me wrong, physical activity and movement are wonderful components of health, but just like anything else too much of a good thing is not always a good thing.

So onto the popular question…. How do you know if you are over-doing it?

I’d say if you are over-doing it, then you likely already know you are. Are you spending hours and hours a day being physically active? Are you going from one workout class to the next?  Are  you planning out your week based on all the workouts you get to do? Has it become your life? Are you constantly exhausted and thinking about food? Is your body ever NOT sore?

This may or may not be you, but if it IS then maybe cutting back may seem scary and not even like a real possibility at this point. Again, I get it. I’ve been in several communities of people where excess physical activity and movement is praised (…while still somewhere in there we’re at the same time encouraged to listen to our bodies??)

It’s in our generation. It’s in our culture.  The more, the better right?

Wrong. This does not have to be true. More is NOT always better. When you are so focused on being physically active, are you even really, truly connected to your body? Is taking 3 yoga classes in one day really what your body needs or is it simply going out and dealing with whatever you’re avoiding by you being in yoga? Is running an extremely long run every Saturday morning really what you need if you’re not even training for a race? Are you spending your life training for races and events? Is that your only hobby? If it is, are you happy ?

If it is and you’re happy with it. Great. But if not or you’re not sure if you are, then keep reading.

Something that I realized is that I didn’t want to spend my life as if I was always training for a race or a sporting event…..because I wasn’t and I’m not. I’m not a collegiate or professional athlete. I don’t get paid to workout or look a certain way. I just like to move but I don’t want to spend my life moving as if my life actually depended on it.  I want to have the time and energy to engage in other hobbies, other things in life.

Really though? If you are putting so much energy into physical activity and working it off….then do you have energy to do OTHER things in life? What else could you have achieved with all of that energy and time you have been putting in?

If the number of hours we get each day hasn’t changed, then what are we sacrificing to get to be this physically active? I know because I’ve been there….something has to give.

I’ve chosen workouts over social activities, sleep, getting chores or other important things done, family time, cooking, shopping for things I needed, you name it. What good does that do?

When physical activity becomes a MUST – a feeling similar to needing air… it can become a problem.

The benefits of physical activity get reversed.

Instead of making us more in-tune with our body, we become numb and can stop listening to our body’s signals because we are so focused on always pushing through them.

Instead of releasing stress, somehow making sure we fit in a workout adds in stress.

Instead of trusting our bodies more and celebrating what we can do, we start to control our bodies and force what they “should” be able to do.

This is where intuitive movement comes in. It’s moving our bodies in a way that supports health, feels good, and overall just makes sense. It’s balance.

Intuitive movement is moving in a way that feels good. Moving in a way that celebrates what your body can do, not punishes you for what you ate or what happened earlier in the day. Intuitive movement means taking a day or three or a week off because your body needs it. Intuitive movement is knowing that even though you didn’t run or take a 90 minute hot yoga class today, you STILL moved. You’re alive and you were meant to do more than just sweat.

So for me…yes, I enjoy moving my body but I also really enjoy days of rest.
I enjoy moving when it’s by choice, when it alternates, when it’s not always the same distance or the same amount of time, or same time of day. I like change. I like variety. and mostly importantly I like getting to enjoy my movement.

It works with my life, not against it.

So here’s my challenge to you, if the mere thought of cutting back on physical activity scares you….maybe it’s something worth doing. Maybe there’s something  there for you on the other side.


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