Are you overexercising? Here are the signs to watch out for

Step away from the weights—overexercising can do more harm than good

Young fitness woman doing exercise with dumbbells at home
(Image credit: Getty)

Nothing wrong with a workout...right? Overexercising, contrary to what many might believe, can take those healthy intentions and do more harm than good. 

While we all have goals and 2022 fitness trends to explore, we need to strike a balance so that we get the most out of our routines and give our bodies the rest we not only deserve but require. 

While you're attempting to uncover the magic number of minutes to exercise each day or the workout that burns the most calories, the mental health charity Mind (opens in new tab) has stepped in with new research to uncover what's been happening with this overindulgent fitness fad.

“The narrative across social media channels often focuses on ‘stronger, leaner, faster, fitter’ messaging, which can encourage people to make unhealthy comparisons and push their body too far," says Hayley Jarvis, head of psychical activity for the charity.

Jarvis adds: “The key is to maintain a healthy relationship with physical activity that includes ‘rest days’ to give the body and mind time to recover."

It's time to back away from the treadmill and put down the kettlebells. 



Why are we overexercising?

According to Mind's studies, we are likely to overexercise in order to manage tricky emotions and we often feel guilty when we forgo a trip to the gym or Zumba class.

Although it's totally fine—and encouraged—to manage your emotional wellbeing through working out, Mind also found that one in six people are working out despite illness and injury, and fewer than three in five active people are incorporating rests into their weekly routines.  

Signs of overexercising

Although you might be convinced that you're seeing results—bigger muscles, tighter abs, and so forth—do be mindful of calling it quits when your body wants a time-out. According to Mind, these signs of overexercising are not to be ignored: 

  • When you cannot stop exercising without feeling distressed
  • When exercise is affecting your job or relationships 
  • When you don’t take breaks when feeling tired, injured or unwell 
  • When you’re exercising hard every day, or several times a day 
  • When you’re making excuses to be active 
  • When physical activity defines you

How to overcome the habit of overexercising

In order to achieve the perfect workout schedule and maintain a healthy lifestyle, the experts at Mind have a few suggestions. 

Be sure to take breaks when needed and spice things up: not every gym visit has to be vigorous. You can incorporate simpler tasks, perhaps yoga or pilates, on the days you need a little TLC. 

Set realistic goals and find a buddy who will keep you motivated, but won't allow you to overindulge. (Hey, even better: certain types of exercises boost your sex drive, so why not hit the gym with bae?) 

And, perhaps most importantly of all, remember that balance is needed in all areas of life, including your gym visits. Grab a bottle of water, dress in the best workout clothes and prepare to hit your exercise goals—reasonably!

Danielle is a writer for woman&home and My Imperfect Life, covering all-things news, lifestyle and entertainment. 


The heart of her time at Future has been devoted to My Imperfect Life, where she's been attuned to the cosmos and honed in on astrology coverage within the Life vertical. She's partial to writing pieces about the next big TV obsession—anyone else impatiently waiting for "Conversations with Friends"—and keeping you up to date on new trends like the latest must-have from Zara. 


Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids and a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, amNewYork and Newsday, among other outlets. 


When Danielle is not working, you can usually find her reading a new book, coffee at hand, or attempting a new recipe. (Recommendations always welcome!)