While few people run the risk of over exercising (most people run the opposite end of the spectrum), some people use exercise as an emotional crutch or allow it to control their lives and ruin their health. These are the folks who go running the day after surgery or the gym-junkies who take every class, every day. Others just don’t know when to quit, even when experiencing a new or sudden pain. They take that “runner’s high” too far, letting it interfere with common sense, activities of daily living, relationships, and responsibilities.

Mental health experts say extreme exercise is a component of many psychiatric disorders including anorexia, various personality disorders, bipolar disorder and more. Distorted body image, also called body dysmorphia, is a common component of an exercising disorder.

The Downside to Exercise
Exercise addiction means losing perspective on the role of exercise in a full life. Over-exercisers typically work out beyond the limits of safety. They’re at risk for muscle, bone and joint injury as well as arthritis, insomnia and depression. If this sounds like you, it’s time for a trip to your primary care physician for a referral to a mental health specialist.

According to an article in the US News and World Report, running a marathon (26.2 miles) can be hazardous to some people’s health and is considered extreme, over-exercise. Marathoners are at risk for heart attack during a race from undiagnosed heart disease, hyponatremia (low sodium level in the blood) and race-induced cardiac damage. The risks are uncommon but present nonetheless.

More commonly, exercising too much results in mild to severe in pain. Otherwise healthy people who exercise more than normal or who are new to exercise, run the risk of injury from overusing or damaging muscles, ligaments or tendons. Shin splints are a good example. When legs aren’t used to absorbing the impact of walking, running or jogging the tissues surrounding the lower leg bones get inflamed and painful. A more gradual approach to unfamiliar exercise along with a trip to a running store and a better fitting pair of shoes may prevent further injury.

The National Institutes of Health say the most common sports injuries are:

• Sprains and strains

• Knee injuries

• Swollen muscles

• Achilles tendon injuries

• Pain along the shin bone

• Fractures

• Dislocations

If you get hurt, stop playing. Continuing to play or exercise can cause more harm. Treatment often begins with the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation) method to relieve pain, reduce swelling and speed healing. Other possible treatments include pain relievers, keeping the injured area from moving, rehabilitation and sometimes surgery.