5 signs your relationship with exercise is unhealthy

An unhealthy relationship with exercise sabotages your ability to fully enjoy your workouts by excessively criticising your physique. Exercise should be enjoyable, but when we live in a culture that encourages competition and when our social media is flooded with workout videos and fitness goals, it’s simple for fitness to turn unhealthy. The unhealthy fitness industry has turned working out into a contest to see who can look the best or have the finest body. It gives us the impression that we need to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones and put fitness first in our life.

Statistics show that exercise addiction affects approximately 4% of school athletes, 8–9% of fitness enthusiasts, and 21% of those with an eating disorder (Griffiths, 2018). The condition often exists alongside an eating disorder, body image issue, and sometimes substance abuse. Fortunately, it is curable with time, patience, commitment, and finding help. The first step to revamping your workout regimen and developing more self-love is realising your bad fitness habits. (Also read: Health experts bust fitness myths that almost everyone believes )

Gaby, Nutritionist and Strength Coach and founder of Cognitive Fitness, suggested 5 signs your relationship with exercise is unhealthy in her Instagram post.

1. You use exercise to punish yourself for food choices

The fitness industry has made us believe that you need to burn off the food you eat. Those messages can lead to many unhealthy behaviours, including exercise addiction or compulsive exercise and eating disorders. Exercise is a celebration of what the body can do, not a punishment for what you choose to eat.

2. You have a “No pain, No gain” mindset

Exercise does not have to hurt to be effective. When you begin an exercise program, you may experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which is quite different from pain. Remember that soreness will go away after a few days as your body becomes fitter and adapts to the program. But training with an injury or until it hurts is not more effective either won’t make you a better athlete. You might be causing more harm and decreasing your quality of life forever.

3. The gym is more important than your loved ones, and other priorities

Do you cancel plans last minute just to fit your gym sessions in? If so, you might need to reevaluate your relationship with exercise. Exercise should be used to supplement a joyful life with friends and family, not take over your entire routine. If your friends or family can only hang out at a time when you exercise, you should skip your workout and spend time with people you love instead. Skipping one session won’t destroy your gains, but it might deteriorate your relationships. When you get to your 70s, you won’t regret missing chest day. You will regret not spending enough time with your loved ones.

4. You have a negative body image

Countless hours working out won’t fix your body image. There’s a good chance it might make it worse. Many people compare themselves so much to others that they forget where they started and how far they have come.

5. Your results are diminishing

If you constantly skip rest days to fit in workouts seven days a week, you’re not allowing your muscles to recover. You may become irritable, and lose sleep and your appetite. Too much of a good thing can go wrong very quickly in this case.

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