How Much Exercise is Too Much? Confronting Overexercise

If you were to do an informal poll among medical professionals, they would likely say that many of us who form the broader public wrestle with not doing enough to be healthy and stay in shape, and we could use a bit more exercise. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’re aware of that, and we know that exercise will do us a world of good.

Exercise has many benefits, such as boosting your mood, burning calories, increasing your levels of energy, and overall leaving you feeling better about life and yourself. The benefits of exercise are widely known, though we may not always take advantage and avail ourselves of them.

There is another side to this though, which doesn’t get addressed as often, and that is the dangers of overdoing exercise. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing – too much exercise can have negative results, such as causing exhaustion, injuries, depression, and addiction that overtakes other areas of life. And so, while it’s important to get some exercise to ensure your health, knowing when you’re overdoing it and when to pull back makes sense.

How much exercise is too much?

Every person is unique when it comes to what their body can handle in terms of exercise. Depending on your age, physical history, and other factors, what you can manage in terms of exercise will vary.

Given such a wide variance between people, one of the more important pieces of wisdom regarding overexercising is to pay close attention to your body. When things aren’t going as they should, your body will tell you. With that in mind, below are a few ways you can tell when you’re taxing yourself through exercise a bit too much.

Not enough rest. When you work out, you need to give yourself time for rest and recovery. That way, your body can heal and make the most of the gains made during the workout. If you’re not having enough rest and recovery time after and between your sessions, that’s a good sign you’re overdoing it.

When you put in a good session, you may feel a little tired and sore, but you’ll also feel energized. However, if you’re feeling fatigued between and even during your sessions, that may signal that you’re overdoing it and not giving your body time to recover.

Insomnia. One of the benefits of working out is that it helps with your overall sense of well-being, and you tend to sleep well. Struggling to fall or stay asleep isn’t a problem when you’re getting the right amount of exercise because it promotes sleep, and so insomnia may signal that you’re overdoing it.

When you’re hurting your body. Whether it’s running, cycling, swimming, walking, dancing, lifting weights, or some other form of exercise, feeling a little sore after a good bit of exercise is par for the course. There is a significant difference between that good kind of soreness that shows you’ve worked hard and lingering soreness that doesn’t disappear after a day or two.

Also, you may be overdoing it if you feel sore only on one side of your body, or in one muscle group or joint in your body. If both legs run a marathon, it doesn’t make sense for only one knee to be in pain long after; that indicates you may have done some injury to yourself.

The presence of actual injuries sustained during your workouts may also suggest you’re overdoing it, especially if the injury came about because of the increased intensity of your workout. When you exercise, don’t increase intensity all at once; work up to your goals steadily over time, for example by adjusting and seeing if your body can handle it over two weeks, then increasing it in the third week.

Your body gains fat and you become more susceptible to illness. Taking in the right amount of exercise tends to help us by boosting our metabolism and immune system. However, if you overdo it, the symptoms can show up in that it’ll compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to things like colds.

Overdoing exercise can also result in a disrupted ability to regulate the stress hormone cortisol, leading to your body holding on to fat. If you find your health deteriorating and your metabolism taking you backward, it may be that you’re overdoing your exercising.

When you lose a good balance. Exercising a lot, whether that means it occupies a large chunk of your time, or it occupies pride of place in your life, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re overdoing it. However, if you begin organizing your life around exercise, you may have a problem. This can manifest in many ways.

Some people become laser-focused, scrupulously measuring their caloric intake, and treating food simply as fuel for the next workout; they don’t enjoy their food as food. In other cases, overdoing it can look like working out when it’s inappropriate, such as when it’s snowing or raining and you insist on going out, or if you miss important life events because you must get your workout in.

You’re irregular and do too much at once. With exercise, slow and steady wins the race. Many people find working out unpleasant because they don’t do it regularly, and when they do it, they want to fit in as much of it in one shot as they can. That can make for an unpleasant and potentially dangerous workout.

If you find yourself dreading your once-in-a-while workout, it may be appropriate to ask yourself why that is. It may be that you’re doing too much all in one go, and if you find yourself in knots trying to fit different types of workouts/activities into one session, you may be overdoing it.

When your performance level drops. As slow and steady wins the race when it comes to exercise, we find that over time we get stronger, more capable, more flexible, and so on. If you’ve been working out consistently for a while, but you find your performance getting worse and not better, you may be overdoing it and not giving your body a chance to recover. Pull back a little, give yourself room to rest, and it will likely lead to a performance boost.

Focusing on one type of workout/movement. When we find something that works for us, we typically stick to it and push it to its limits. This may not be the best idea. A runner can work hard on their running, but if they don’t do proper stretching and flexibility training, their overall gains may be compromised.

Someone who focuses on strength training may do just that, leaving other areas such as flexibility or cardio-fitness languishing. A person who does yoga may be flexible, but their overall strength may need some improvement. If you find that your focus is only on one thing, you might be overdoing it and inadvertently lowering your overall performance. You need to do a mix of things to develop flexibility, strength, endurance, and cardio fitness.

What do I do if I’m overdoing it?

In general, getting the right amount of exercise is good for your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. But if any of the above-mentioned signs of overdoing it sound familiar to you, what can you do about it? As mentioned earlier, the key thing is to pay close attention to your body and heed its cues. If you’re feeling tired or sore, you may need to pull back and create rest and workout days.

When you intensify your workouts, do so in small increments and give your body time to adjust to the change before making further increments in intensity. In general, having days set aside for rest and recovery is a good idea. If you want to move during your rest days, you can still use your time and do active recovery, which may mean stretching or walking. If you only do one type of exercise, consider diversifying it to improve your overall fitness.

Injuries are common during exercise, and sometimes you may feel sore for a few days while your body heals. However, see a medical professional if you’ve injured yourself and it doesn’t seem to be getting better even with rest. Working out boosts your mood, so if you notice that your moods are being altered negatively when you work out, and afterward, talk with a mental health professional so that you can address any potential issues such as depression.

“Workout”, Courtesy of Jonathan Borba,, CC0 License; “Exercise Group”, Courtesy of Gabin Vallet,, CC0 License; “Measured Fork”, Courtesy of Diana Polekhina,, CC0 License; “Keep Climbing”, Courtesy of Bruno Nascimento,, CC0 License

How to Address Negative Body Image Issues in Women

Negative body image issues in women are common. They can hold you back from living a full, positive life. These issues are worth addressing with a counselor.

You may have thought, felt, or done these things if you have negative body image issues:

  • Looked in the mirror and didn’t like something about yourself
  • Took issues with your nose, lips, eyes, or any other body part
  • Stepped on the bathroom scale with bated breath wondering what the numbers would say, and feeling like that reflected your worth
  • Wished you had a slenderer body, a fuller chest or fuller lips, a smaller waist, longer legs, or any other change that is largely out of your control
  • Wondered why you have all those thoughts about your image
  • Convinced yourself that a nip here and a tuck there would fix your problems
  • Compared yourself with others and wondered why you are doing so
  • Thinking about the ideal body, nose, waist, or chest size and how it applies to you
  • Wondering who determines and sets the body image standards against which you often measure yourself

These thoughts can be exhausting and discouraging. That’s why it’s good to learn about negative body issues in women and how you can overcome them.

Understanding Body Image

Body image is defined as “the mental picture one forms of one’s body as a whole including its physical characteristics and one’s attitudes towards these characteristics.” Various studies and surveys show that more women than men are likely to be affected by body image issues.

There seems to be a social worth that attaches to women’s bodies. This is probably because different cultures have always had opinions on what it means to be an ideal woman physically.  Because beauty is largely a social construct, there is a particular complexity that comes with body image. Not only is a woman limited to reflecting on how she feels about her own body but often, she also wonders how other people perceive her.

In some cultures, women’s fuller bodies are seen as ideal and attractive. Yet in other cultures, the thinner and slender a woman is, the more attractive she is deemed to be. Despite this obvious difference in definitions and perceptions, the standards are more subjective rather than objective.

These ideals are often perpetuated by the traditional media including television and magazines, the beauty and fashion industries, and social media. How a woman perceives herself is shaped by a myriad of sources, including what her society pushes and portrays as being the ideal body. Depending on each woman’s societal and media interactions, and her personal interpretation and understanding of such, she can either have a positive or negative body image.

Negative Body Image Issues

Negative body image can best be described as having an extremely unhappy and intensely dissatisfied view of one’s physical appearance. Due to the attention that is placed on women’s bodies and what it means to be beautiful and physically attractive in contemporary society, women start forming perceptions of their bodies at rather young ages. Often without realizing it, a woman internalizes those beauty standards to which she is most exposed.

A woman may start having internal conversations about whether or not she is attractive, worthy, and acceptable. These conversations will sometimes start to deepen and increase as her body undergoes natural changes and as she interacts more with the outside world.

For example, if she was teased about her looks or received negative feedback about her body parts or her weight, skin tone, or hair, she might start harshly criticizing herself and wishing her body or specific body parts were built or shaped in a certain way.

Likewise, if you spend most of your time immersed in traditional or social media you may find yourself comparing yourself with the “perfect” people that you see there and wondering why you are not like them. You may even start thinking of ways that you may attain such looks.

Signs and Symptoms

Although this list is not exhaustive, these are some of the common signs and symptoms of a negative body image:

  • Low self-esteem stemming from comparing yourself with other people whom you view as having the ideal body or physical features
  • Obsession with mirrors for purposes of scrutinizing oneself and finding more fault
  • Spending too much time on social media for purposes of trying to keep up with beauty trends
  • Harsh and judgmental comments about one’s own body
  • Investing an extreme amount of time, effort, and money in trying to change your image
  • Resorting to drastic dietary and exercise regimes or cosmetic surgery to attain the “ideal” body

4 Ways to Improve Body Image

Here are four ideas to help you improve your body image issues on your own. But if you need more help, a Christian counselor can show you how to address these issues on a deeper level.

Be kind to yourself.

You can start by being kinder to yourself and avoiding some of your known triggers of negative body image. Stop comparing yourself to those perfectly curated people you see on television or social media. Limit the time you spend on social media. But while you are there, unfollow the pages of people who portray unrealistic beauty and body goals. When you feel tempted to compare yourself with others, say one kind thing you like about yourself instead.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating and exercising, getting enough sleep, and seeking help from qualified healthcare practitioners and counselors. This will help you preserve mental, emotional, and physical health. Consider pursuing different hobbies which do not involve screentime. Try to surround yourself with people that keep your focus on other important life aspects instead of just physical looks and fashion trends.

Embrace your body.

Contrary to what popular culture will have you believe, there is more to a woman’s body than just being admired, Embrace your body and all its capabilities because, by its very nature, the human body is amazing regardless of its color, size, or shape.

The Bible says in Psalm 139:14 NIV, “I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” As a Christian, you should intentionally focus on that verse because your body is a testimony of God’s greatness.

While it is true that society, media, and the beauty and fashion industries have a lot to say about women’s bodies, there are enough scientific facts that can be used to push back against some of the unrealistic ideals that are often forced on people’s faces.  The following are examples of biological facts about women’s bodies that need to be normalized:

  • Genetics play a significant role in how people look and there is no fighting them.
  • Women’s bodies undergo different changes due to puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding, menopause, and other hormonal changes.
  • Sagging breasts are natural as they lose elasticity due to aging, multiple pregnancies, and hormonal changes.
  • Some girls and women develop acne due to hormone changes during puberty and adulthood.

Repeat these truths to yourself when you need to embrace your body just the way it is.

Do not forget who you are in Christ.

It is important to reflect on Romans 12:2 NIV, Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Instead of chasing after the often-unrealistic man-made standards of beauty that constantly change, it is more fulfilling as a Christian to focus on God’s will for your life. You must never forget who you are in Christ and that you are called for a greater purpose.

The battle to develop a positive body image can be difficult. If you or anyone you know is struggling with body image issues, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for a coaching appointment. I would be honored to walk this journey with you.


“The Face in the Mirror”, Courtesy of Elisa Photography,, CC0 License; “Watching the Sunset”, Courtesy of Sage Friedman,, CC0 License; “Reaching”, Courtesy of Rowan Kyle,, CC0 License; “Abandon”, Courtesy of Nathan McBride,, CC0 License 

4 Steps to Healthy Weight Management

Most people desire to make changes to their health and usually begin with wanting to lose weight. They have a vision and a goal number they want to see on the scale so they set goals and action steps to reach this weight loss.

Often, however, many individuals may reach their goals but then find that the weight loss doesn’t last. Or, they may not know the exact steps that are required for them to reach their weight loss goals. Instead, they find themselves on a rollercoaster without consistency. What is the missing piece?

Having healthy weight management.

If you’re thinking about making changes to maintaining your weight, it can be a difficult road to find what is best for you, your body, and your lifestyle. The majority of our thoughts are centered around the foods we choose and how much we exercise. While this is true, there are missing components to successfully find balance and ease with being able to maintain healthy stability.

Having a healthy weight management goal instead of a weight loss goal may just be the perspective shift you have been looking for all along! When you focus on what healthy weight management looks like for you, you can be set free from needing to try different diets or setting a goal weight because you begin to understand what is right for your body naturally.

In this article, you are going to learn four steps to find and successfully implement lasting healthy weight management.

Step One: Understanding your digestive health

Your digestive health is the first place you need to look when it comes to your ability to manage a healthy weight. In the context of weight management, the amount of stress you are dealing with, the number of inflammatory foods you are consuming, and the overall health of your gut are paramount and also work in tandem.

Your digestion begins before actually eating food as it relates to external factors like stress and anxiety that unknowingly greatly affect how your foods are digested. Additionally, if your diet consists of food high in sugar or processed, your gut lining and proper functions of your digestion will be impaired due to the constant state of inflammation.

This is what can cause unhealthy cravings or addiction to sugary foods. When you learn to choose the right foods that are anti-inflammatory and eat for your digestion, you’ll immediately see improvements and see your body remarkably adapt to its natural healthy state.

Step Two: Define what is healthy management

As above-mentioned, focusing on setting a healthy weight management goal instead of a weight loss goal will help you in the long run. Every day we are bombarded with advertisements, promotions, and sales for healthy foods, products, supplements, and diets. Through social media channels, magazines with headlines on the front cover, or even if you ask Google what is healthy management, it’s very noisy!

What happens is that all of the images, phrases, diets, and advertisements that we see, subconsciously begin to build the wrong impression of what is right and true for your health. It becomes easier to focus on all of the things you “should” be doing instead of learning, knowing, and understanding what is right for you and your body. The key factor is to read between the lines and find what you need for your health.

How do you do this?

The answer is to set a goal for success. Before you begin a new health journey, ask yourself these four questions:

  1. What does my desired weight management look like?
  2. How will I know when I am successfully managing my health?
  3. What is my desired look, feel, and lifestyle?
  4. Why am I choosing to focus on maintaining my weight?

When you take the time to ask yourself these four questions, you are setting yourself up for success before you even begin. What happens is that most individuals want to choose better foods, make changes to their eating and exercise habits, and immediately jump into the new diet that everyone is speaking about, such as the one that promised instant results that you read about on the magazine cover while waiting in line at the grocery.

So because this is all the craze, many people rush into then buying those suggested ingredients, supplements, or diet plans without truly preparing for the course that aligns with long-term sustainability.

Maintaining a healthy weight goes beyond the food choices and amounts of exercise because it has everything to do with your reasons, definitions, and lifestyle. If you never measure what success in this area means to you, how will you know when you have reached it?

If you do a personal inventory, you may already be maintaining your weight from a goal you set years ago, but without knowing what it looked like back then, it’s easy to want to keep doing new things because without realizing that you already met your initial goal.

When you consider what asking yourself these four questions means to you, you will start to see the connection between the how, what, why, and your will. These four questions are pivotal in helping you set your vision and determine what steps are needed to help you reach your goals. Coupled with a better understanding of your digestive health, you’ll be empowered to choose the right foods for long-term health rather than short-term satisfaction.

Step Three: Find an activity you love to do

One of the largest areas where people “fall off the wagon” is not loving what they were committed to doing, especially in the area of exercise. Most people end up feeling less motivated because it resembles a chore that interrupts their day and must be done. When you find an activity you love to do, your inspiration is automatic and you end up excited about it, becoming naturally committed.

When it comes to exercise, try an activity that is something new and different. Notice the change in words from exercise to activity. Placing your focus on a daily activity also changes your perspective from it feeling like a chore. Make small commitments then increase your frequency over time. When trying a new activity and you realize you don’t like that one you picked, try something new. Exercise does not have to be hours on a treadmill or doing squats.

Finding new trails in nature with gorgeous views. You can even try switching up the times you decide to commit to your activity and couple it with a benefit, much like going on a walk to go watch the sun rise or set. Consider trying a new sport and joining a league like rowing, softball, or volleyball. Sometimes when you reflect on a sport you used to play when you were young, you may find you are inspired to pick it back up as an adult. What is on your list to try?

Step Four: Fight those negative thoughts

Another contributing factor to why it is difficult to maintain a healthy weight is because we let our thoughts and words defeat us. Sometimes when it comes to not seeing progress as soon as one thought would happen allows an open door for negativity, frustration, and setbacks to enter in.

When you act upon the four questions you attached to your goal (hint: see step two), you end up staying committed to the lifestyle goal you are seeking instead of the feelings when you let negativity lead.

With that said, when you surrender your health to God’s power, you can maintain anything when you rely upon His strength. Another encouragement is to study Scriptures that reflect your goals and partner with the Holy Spirit to pour out His ability for you to stay committed to your health management goals.

If you are looking to take these four steps in a practical way, consider coaching. When you work with a coach, you get to discover and design your goals through a series of questions to help you get clear on your vision and steps. Not only do you get to make a step-by-step plan with a coach, but you also get to work alongside them as they help guide you through each step to make sure you are on track to reaching your goals and that you stay in line with your vision.

Contact me today if this article resonated with you and if you want to explore the benefits of coaching when it comes to maintaining your healthy weight.

“Weighing out the Beans”, Courtesy of Tyler Nix,, CC0 License; “Fruit Breakfast”, Courtesy of Jannis Brandt,, CC0 License; “Watermelon Smile”, Courtesy of Caju Gomes,, CC0 License; “Planning”, Courtesy of KOBU Agency,, CC0 License