Exercise can be a stress reliever, a re-energizer and can
lengthen one’s lifespan. However, too much of a good thing can be
bad. If going to the gym is becoming more like a job than
enjoyment, it may be a sign that over-exercising has taken
Matthew Hickey, associate professor of health and exercise
science, said over-exercising is classified as a syndrome.
“The term exercise addiction has recently come up in medical
literature,” Hickey said.
There are discrepancies over what defines over-exercising
because it is largely dependent on each individual’s body
“I don’t think that anybody should be vigorously working out
seven days a week. If you are, create a fun and healthy program
consisting of variety and a balanced exercise routine,” Hickey
There are also people who binge exercise.
“Binge exercisers do not work out on a regular basis but when
they do, they do it on an irrational level of intensity and
duration; they binge,” said Tamar Cline, a strength and fitness
coordinator at the Student Recreation Center.
When working out stops being for exercise and the gym routine
becomes similar to a job obligation for people, a risk for
over-exercising can develop.
“Over exercising is more prevalent among people concerned with
body image,” Cline said.
While there is an equal concern about body image for men and
women, certain personality traits can lead to a workout obsession,
Cline said people who are persistent, tend to be obsessive or
have compulsive behavior are more apt to develop an over-exercising
Some over-exercisers use working out as a self-esteem boost to
solve problems or to release overwhelming emotions.
Junior health and exercise science major John Kummrow knows when
he needs more energy to execute a rigorous exercise session.
“My body will tingle because I need more glucose or aminos in my
system. I also know I’m working too hard when I start to decline in
the amount of time or repetitions I’m doing,” Kummrow said.
The exerciser might overlook some warning signs given by the
body because certain symptoms are prevalent on college campuses,
such as the common cold.
“One of the symptoms of an over-exercised body is an upper
respiratory tract infection. This is the occurrence of cold-like
symptoms but the difference is they do not seem to go away,” Hickey
An increase in heart rate is one indicator.
“If you notice that during your regular workout your heart rate
is higher than it is typically, that is a sign. Also your resting
heart rate may be higher than it is normally,” Hickey said.
Another warning sign is a constant state of fatigue during the
day and not being able to sleep at night.
Stacey Olson, a junior health and exercise science major, knows
this all too well. In high school she was the lead runner and
captain of the track team. She felt pressure from her coach to work
out before and after school, monitor food intake and to maintain
This pressure turned into a stress of pushing herself to do more
than she was capable of. Today, Olsen is her own coach and she is
very aware of her body and the signals it sends to her.
“I know I’m over-exercising because I’ll start to feel really
tired, have a hard time sleeping, lose my appetite, have muscle and
joint pains and aches. These warning signs let me know that I am
over-exercising,” Olsen said.
Some students can lose touch with their bodies and do more harm
then good. This is not an uncommon phenomenon trainers at the
recreation center see.
“Exercising too much leads to muscle breakdown, fatigue and
weaker muscles, which in turn leads to a weaker bone structure,”
Women especially should be concerned about developing Female
“The first part of Female Athlete Triad is over-exercising, the
second is amenorrhea, (less or even loss of menstrual flow) and the
last component is a decrease in bone density,” said Jon Gines, a
doctorate student in the Department of Health and Exercise