Is exercise your friend or foe?
Exercise is so good for us, how can it be a foe? The answer is, rarley but when the balance gets skewed, enter the foe.
There is such a thing as exercise dependency. An addiction like any other, with unhealthy consequences. Many people who fall within this category wear their addiction as a badge of honour. Unaware of the damage it is doing. Feeling a bit grumpy when you are unable to exercise is natural, if you are used to the hit of post exercise endorphins.
We all need those endorphins, but failing to get them from sources other than exercise is a mistake!
How to get the feel good factor without exhausting yourself?
3. Be creative
4. Eat chocolate
5. Listen to music
6. Have sex
The list goes on. My point is, there are many ways to keep those endorphins flowing without speding an unhealthy amount of time exercising which can even lead you to be too tired to enjoy number 6!
The NHS and endorphins
“Endorphins are powerful, energising, feel good chemicals that induce feelings of calm, happy and wellbeing. They help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp.”
As you can see, relying on exercise as the only way to release endorphins will leave you anything but, mentally sharp! Tiredeness tends to be ignored, even injuries are swept aside, sometimes against medical advice. A sort of exercise driven blindness occurs.
Step outside the situation and it is clear to see. Viewing it from within is almost impossible. Hearing it from someone else, is maddening!
I have the T-shirt
Some might think that I am ‘a fine one to talk’ but what they fail to see is the balance that I have spent many years achieving. There is nothing more powerful than personal experience.
I would not dream of writing this blog had I not already got the t-shirt, worn it for far too long, learned why it was an uncomfortable fit and finally discarded it.
In short, I now only do things I enjoy. Training for something may not appear to be a lot of fun but if I didn’t enjoy the process, I wouldn’t do it. I always check my diary to make sure there is plenty of time for family, friends and the really important stuff 🙂
Some signs you are exercise dependent:
- You prioritise exercise over almost everything
- You feel more than a little grumpy when you cannot exercise
- Your tolerance has increased to the point where you need to do more and more to get the same mood-enhancing benefit
- It gets in the way of socialising with friends and family
- You are declining invitations to social occasions because it will get in the way
- You are less than honest about how much you actually do
- Your sleep is being affected
Why it matters:
- The body can only adapt and improve when at rest. No rest = No adaptation
- The imbalance you display is socially damaging. Your friends and family may feel they are not important to you
- Consistent poor sleep has far reaching consequences for your health
- Poor diets are associated with over exercising
- You become vulnerable to injury by overworking tired muscles
- Stressing your body when it is damaged will prolong injuries or make them worse
Finding the balance
This involves finding out what drives you. What makes you happy. What it feels like to take your foot off the gas. I can tell you from experience, it feels odd, then wonderful!
Take note of what benefits you start to experience.
Don’t think of it as doing less, think of it as doing more of what makes you feel good, just in less time.
Try new things. Social sports, clubs, groups. Be brave and use all that energy to see what you might be good at but have never tried. It is a way of breaking the ‘routine.’
Talk about it. Share your thoughts but do this to receive support not negative feedback. If that’s what you get, ignore it. You are your own best judge.
We can’t change overnight
I chose the picture to accompany this blog because it depicts someone pausing their day. During this pause I imagine them pondering the way their life is shaping up. Maybe looking at the view and deciding to ask their world for more than they are getting. Those thoughts, during that pause, will be the beginning of a change.
Are you giving yourself enough time to get all that you can from your world?
If none of the above relates to you but you know someone who would benefit from reading it, please share. Also, take a moment to think about any other part of your life that might be out of balance. You might be surprised how the difficulties you are facing do not vary too much from the exercise dependent soul.