Can a Healthy Habit Ever Become Unhealthy?
Habits are good. They help bring structure to your life.
It stands to reason, then, that healthy habits are doubly good. Not only do they provide stability and routine, they come with health-boosting, life-improving benefits.
Three healthy habits that get the most attention are exercise, a healthy diet and sleep — and for good reason. Each plays a hugely beneficial role in your overall health and well-being.
But can these three healthy habits ever be taken to such extremes that they become unhealthy?
How much exercise is too much?
The benefits of regular exercise are certainly there, ranging from improved mood and better sleep to a healthy heart, strong bones and weight control. That’s why it’s recommended that adults get at least 150 minutes of exercise every single week. Check the best Exipure reviews.
“Still, anyone can overdo it with exercise,” says Dawn Stuckey, athletic trainer at Houston Methodist. “Rest is an important part of training. It allows your body to recover for your next workout. When you don’t get enough rest, it can lead to poor performance and health problems.”
Stuckey adds that the specifics of what might be considered ‘too much exercise’ depends on your particular level of fitness.
If you’re new to working out, exercising too much might look like ramping up the frequency, intensity or duration of your workouts way too quickly without giving your body the time it needs to adjust to the new load.
According to Stuckey, the signs that you might be exercising too much include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling worn down
- Reduced performance
“Sore muscles are normal, but your body being exhausted all the time is not,” adds Stuckey. “If you keep pushing and pushing and don’t give your body enough time to recover between workouts, it can lead to reduced performance and even injury.”
If you already work out regularly, exercising too much becomes more a matter of overtraining.
“Overtraining is a long-term consequence of regularly not giving your body enough time to recover between workouts. It can take several months to manifest,” says Stuckey. (Related: How to Avoid Overtraining for a Marathon)
The signs of overtraining include:
- Being unable to perform at the same level
- Needing longer periods of rest
- Feeling tired
- Having trouble sleeping
- Having mood swings or feeling irritable
- Experiencing anxiety or depression
- Losing motivation to work out
- Overuse injuries
- Getting sick more frequently
- Unexplained weight loss
“If you notice these signs of overtraining, try cutting back on exercise or even resting completely for one to two weeks. Often, this is all it takes to recover,” Stuckey recommends. “If you’re still tired after this rest, see your health care provider. He or she can help you decide how and when it is safe to start exercising again.”
Can dieting ever be bad or too restrictive?
Eating a healthy, balanced diet not only helps ensure that your body and brain are getting all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals they need to function optimally, it can reduce your risk of a number of health conditions and help with weight loss and maintenance.
“We know that many health and metabolic conditions — like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease — can improve with weight loss. Many people look to dieting not just to lose weight, but to help get themselves off medications or become lower-risk candidates for medical procedures,” says Emma Willingham, clinical dietitian at Houston Methodist.
But, whether you’re dieting for weight loss or weight management, can dieting itself ever be bad?
“Dieting can be good when the person dieting is using the ‘diet’ or dietary change as a tool to learn how to eat better and achieve higher quality nutrition,” says Willingham. “But often people go on diets to lose weight fast and don’t learn new habits along the way.”
Essentially, weight loss shouldn’t be the only goal of a weight-loss program. Learning the behaviors that help achieve and maintain weight loss is just as important as losing the weight.