7 Steps to Help You Build a Healthy Relationship With Exercise – Livestrong

Building a healthy relationship with exercise starts with figuring out your reasons for working out and what types of movement makes you happy.

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When I was in my 20s, I was what you’d call an overexerciser. I’d get up at 5 a. m. and head to the gym for at least an hour, then I’d walk two miles to and from work — even if it was below zero.


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Saturdays were with regard to long runs, and I would trudge 15 miles. Who cares if it was storming out that day, I was sick with a terrible cold or my shin splints made me limp along? If I has been asked to go out at night, I said no; I knew We couldn’t come home late plus skip my workout the next morning.


And yet, I was applauded for my efforts and dedication. No one realized what was really going on: My commitment to exercise was not a sign that all had been well. I had an unhealthy relationship along with exercise that was hurting me, mentally plus physically.

“We really live in a society where it’s assumed that will everyone is not moving enough. While data does show that many people would benefit from greater amounts of physical activity, there are some who would take advantage of less, ” Dana Voelker, PhD , associate professor at West Virginia University and certified mental performance consultant, tells LIVESTRONG. com.


It starts with the false narrative that more is always better, she says, so that the experience of people who are overtraining and overexercising will be ignored.

“That compromises one’s ability to detect what is excessive. It’s easy to become proud of those habits, especially if everyone else around you are reinforcing it, inch Voelker explains.


And that’s precisely why it can be tough to recognize that will you might have this problem, too. Some of that is self-reinforcement, egged on by technology.

“An unhealthy partnership with exercise can definitely fly under the radar in today’s celebratory culture associated with more is usually better plus gaining badges or blue dots on exercise apps, ” says Michele Kerulis, EdD , professor of counseling and sports psychology with the particular Family Institute at Northwestern University.

What Does This Mean in order to Have the Healthy Relationship With Exercise?

A healthy approach to exercise means it fits your lifestyle — not really the other way around — and that it aligns with your personal goals plus needs. It’s also a good acknowledgment that your relationship along with exercise may change throughout the years, and that’s completely natural and to be expected.

For example, if you’re postpartum, you may have a hard time accepting how your body changed during pregnancy and how that affected your strength, stamina and performance while running, lifting or another go-to activity.

Likewise, if you were diagnosed with a new health condition that changed exactly how you may exercise, this may also be difficult to make a switch in exercise identity. That’s where grace plus flexibility come in. This type of acceptance toward change can be challenging, so know you’re doing nothing wrong if you’re struggling in these transitions.

Stepping back, though, exercise is about more than the workout itself. “My definition of a healthy relationship with exercise is definitely characterized by joyful experience and exploration exactly where body cues drive the particular amount, kind, frequency plus intensity associated with exercise versus extremely rigid and socially constructed rules, ” Voelker says.

Research shows individuals who are usually at the highest risk of overexercising are more likely to become depressed and experience more stress compared to those along with healthier outlooks on workout, according to a June 2018 study within ​ Addictive Behaviors Reports .

Those who are usually at a high risk associated with exercise addiction are a lot more likely in order to say they exercise often (8 hours per week compared to 5 hours per week), push through pain and injury and fear getting the new injuries in comparison to all those who were at the lowest risk of physical exercise addiction.

They may also be more probably to use exercise to regulate their emotions and to experience a depressed mood on days that they can’t exercise.

With regard to me, the relationship with exercise is at a bad place regarding years, plus correcting it is a journey that can take time and function. But it can worth it intended for your health, happiness — and yes, even your fitness goals.

Here’s just how to build a proper connection with exercise:

1. Establish Your Reasons for Exercising

Think about why you want in order to exercise and ask yourself where you learned your own attitudes toward exercise. Is it because people say that it’s “good for you” or that you should exercise in order to look a certain way?

Depending on your responses, you might benefit from speaking to the mental health professional, especially in case an exercise routine has become punishing, unhealthy or even unmanageable.

The mental physician who specializes in eating disorders or sports and exercising psychology can help lend unique insight into what’s going on plus guide you through the process of developing a healthier romantic relationship with exercise.

“One of the first steps is becoming aware that there is an alternative. This isn’t the particular only method to live, and it’s important to have the willingness to explore individuals alternatives, inches Voelker states.

That means if you are afraid to step out of your current exercise routine, you might feel as if a person should ignore the physical or mental tips that if you’re pushing your self too hard or even doing as well much. But change is possible, and you can develop a better relationship with workout. It just takes work, and that will work may feel uncomfortable at times.

In addition, Kerulis recommends finding a certified personal trainer, who can help you create a healthy exercise plan focused on your goals plus explain the importance and function associated with recovery and easy days. These are not enemies to your own progress — they are necessary for your success.

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2 . Listen in order to Your Body

It’s simple to get caught up in the outside noise (often from social media fitness plus wellness influencers) that tells you how to work out and when in order to exercise, Voelker says.

“What I find is that as we listen, negotiate plus incorporate these types of ‘be-like-me’ messages internally, we lose the particular most important voice, which is our body, ” the girl says.

This also means is actually OK to step away of the workout routine sometimes to prioritize your individual needs before your workouts. Ask yourself this particular important question prior to moving: “What does your body want right now? ” Voelker says. Remember a person, and not your training plan, know the body best.

When you slow down and cue within, your entire body will tell you when it’s on the brink of fatigue. It will let you know when you need to sleep in instead of getting up in the morning in order to work out there, when that will hip discomfort isn’t normal and you need to scale back on running or in the event that you need a rest day or to do restorative yoga rather than an intense cardio workout after a busy week.

3. Embrace Rest

“It’s therefore important for people to understand how we actively build physical fitness via exercise, and also how all of us can sustain health by means of tapering down and rest, ” Kerulis says. A common fear many people have towards exercise recovery is it will get them out associated with shape or slide all of them further from their objectives.

Rest, Kerulis explains, is a crucial component of fitness that drives the gains of the work most likely doing. That’s because recuperation allows your own body to repair muscles plus build them back stronger. As a result, it will boost your strength and cardio overall performance.

If you fear rest will sabotage your own fitness goals, connecting with a licensed counselor may help a person navigate these emotions, plus how your sense of self-worth or even self-esteem may be tied to your bodily activity, Kerulis says.

4. Practice Self-Compassion

Part associated with your experience with harmful exercise might be the self-flagellation of what happens when you don’t do your regularly scheduled exercise or you don’t perform upward to (your) par.

Rigid adherence to an exercise program can become self-punishing. What’s more, if you’re chasing big targets beyond your own current fitness level or experience an injury, you may be more likely to get down on yourself in case these goals seem out of reach.

“Building a better relationship is about relearning in order to give yourself compassion , ” Voelker says.

“My definition of a healthful relationship along with workout is characterized by joyful experience and exploration where body cues drive the amount, type, frequency and intensity of exercise compared to extremely firm and socially constructed guidelines. ”

Remind your self it’s OK if a person missed the workout. It can OK you chose to leisurely stroll your dog vs hop on the particular stair stepper for a sweaty session. You are inherently worthy of making that will choice. It is done for your body and wellness — and is not a reflection associated with who you are as a person. (e. g. You aren’t lazy. )

Also, don’t forget to bring self-compassion, kindness plus patience, during times of injury and illness, Kerulis adds. For example , if you aren’t injured or even sick, your body will require rest in order to get better. It is not a sign of weakness, that you don’t have talent or that you won’t bounce back.

5. Focus on Fun

What movement do you love — like ​ really ​ love? Reflecting on that can help people that feel they’re overexercising , as well as these who have a negative partnership with physical exercise because they perceive it as one that’s punishing plus, well, unfun.

“Exercise, simply by its nature and purpose, is challenging, so finding something that is enjoyable about exercise can decrease the negative perception and can actually help workout feel like a reward, inch Kerulis states.

Doing actual physical activity that feels rewarding and brings about joy — versus anxiety and shame — can help you stay active in ways that serve you better.

These are activities that will make you feel great outside of the number on a fitness tracker or ticking off the next goal on your list. They are activities that you needed do anyway, even when you can’t “keep score. ” Celebrating your ability to move and perform the actual activities you really love can bring back that special spark.

“The solution may not really be to stop exercise completely, but in order to approach plus ‘do’ exercise differently, inches Voelker says. Ask yourself: What are workout opportunities I actually haven’t considered before?

In case you’re a runner, consider hiking the trail; if you like yoga, see if there are usually any outdoor yoga classes in your area. The change of environment will help make an activity that has become less enjoyable can reignite your own love for it and make it more fun and interesting.

6. Shift Your own Perspective

It’s hard to hear yourself through the chatter fitspo spits out there.

“Exercise may feel like something a person have to do to get closer in order to this socially constructed and impossible entire body ideal, ” Voelker states.

Focus on being in the moment of your workout encounter, rather than trying to chase after this type of abstract goal (that probably won’t bring happiness).

Whenever you’re in a workout, notice the feeling of your heart pumping or the particular wind that will blows through your hair as you run or even ride your own bike. Or look around in a class and make a note to appreciate how fired up you are feeling in this particular high-energy social environment.

Whilst it’s hard to uncouple exercising with “body objectives, ” know that you’re not alone. Is actually important to keep in mind that your appearance isn’t a reflection of how fit or strong a person are. For instance , you don’t have in order to have six-pack abs to have a strong core.

Exercising in a healthy way has been shown to improve body image, according to a small July 2017 study within Psychology associated with Sport plus Exercise . It makes you actually see your body differently, and physical exercise also makes feel more powerful, which increases your sense of accomplishment and empowerment. All of this can shift your own perspective upon your body to a more positive light.

7. Talk to a Professional

Having an unhealthy connection with exercise can affect exactly how you go about your everyday life plus can become part of an eating disorder .

Some signs that exercise is negatively affecting the way you live your life are: turning straight down invitations to visit out along with friends to be able to exercise, fearing something social will prevent from the scheduled workout and restricting foods due to the fact you haven’t burned enough calories via exercise.

In these cases, connecting with a licensed mental health professional can assist you inside moving forward. “This person can help a person process difficult questions, inch Voelker says.

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