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The Dangers of Over Exercising and Supplement Use

over exercising and training word cloud

Regular exercise provides a wide range of benefits, including physical fitness, improved mental health, and a reduced risk of some serious diseases. However, too much exercise can cause physical and mental harm.

This is also true for supplements. Reasonable doses of certain vitamins and other supplements support good health, but what you take and how much you take can cause harm. In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found about 23,000 people in the U.S. visit an emergency department each year because of adverse reactions to dietary supplements.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Over Exercising

Not only can over-exercise be harmful, but it can also be counterproductive. When you don’t allow your body time to refuel and recover between workouts, you may diminish your future performance. Your body may be chronically sore, you can become irritable and easily angered, and may have trouble thinking clearly. The longer excessive exercise continues, the more difficult it is for your body to rebound.

Physical Signs

Compulsive exercise can damage the heart, muscles, bones, and nervous system. Signs to watch for include chronic aches, muscle fatigue, joint pain, decreased appetite, sleep disorders, increased injuries, frequent colds, and other illnesses.

In addition, women who over-exercise may experience the “female triad,” which includes menstrual dysfunction, low bone density, and low energy with or without disordered eating.

Mental Signs

You are irritable, anxious, depressed, and lack motivation. You feel guilty or hide how much time you spend exercising and feel upset when you cannot exercise. You spend a lot of time thinking about when you can exercise. You use exercise to bury or manage negative emotions.

Behavioral Signs

You work out several times each day, even when it interferes with other activities or commitments. You exercise despite illness, injury, or inclement weather.

Time spent exercising is causing problems in your personal or professional relationships. You may withdraw from friends and family thanks to your exercise habit.

Over Exercising and Eating Disorders

While anyone can over-exercise, the practice is particularly harmful to individuals managing eating disorders. Compulsive exercising can dangerously lower an individual’s weight, especially if they are already struggling with food intake, and can cause serious health complications.

The National Eating Disorders Association notes that over exercising can serve as a substitute for “purge” behavior as a way to artificially reduce a person’s calorie intake. In other cases, individuals may use over exercising as an excuse to eat.

A study in the journal Comprehensive Psychiatry also found that over exercising was common among individuals struggling with acute eating disorders, particularly people diagnosed with anorexia. The authors noted that over exercising often played a major role in individuals’ eating disorders.

Dangers of Supplements

Dietary supplements include vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and enzymes, marketed to enhance health, weight loss, or boost energy. Because supplements are readily available over the counter in retail stores, many people believe they are safe.

Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees supplements and provides manufacturing guidelines, it is up to the manufacturers to ensure products adhere to those guidelines. The FDA does not test supplements for safety or efficacy.

As stated above, a New England Journal of Medicine study found approximately 23,000 Americans a year seek emergency medical help because of reactions from supplements they have consumed. About 25 percent of ER visits are linked to weight-loss products, followed by energy, sexual enhancement, heart health, sleep aids, and more. Reactions to iron, calcium, potassium supplements, and unspecified vitamins also contribute to ER visits.

Dietary supplements may contain ingredients that conflict with a medicine you take or a medical condition you have. Always consult with your doctor before using any supplement.

Turning Point of Tampa has offered Licensed Residential Treatment for Addiction, Eating Disorders and Dual Diagnosis in Tampa since 1987.

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