A Publication of WTVP

Sometimes fitness enthusiasts who are fanatical about their workouts will eventually run into problems. Some are addicted to the so-called "runners' high"-that feeling of wellbeing that arises when compounds known as endorphins are released in the body and interact with the brain.

In his book, Positive Addiction, Dr. William Glasser, M.D. explains how many fitness addicts become so guilt ridden that, despite extremely painful injuries, they continue to exercise-bandages and wraps applied-to their physical detriment, rather than suffer the horrendous guilt and depression that ensue if they miss their workout.

Dr. George Sheehan, M.D., a cardiologist known as the guru of running, said, "We are going to have to admit that we run because we enjoy it and are addicted to it-not because we are cardiologists." Studies have shown that compulsive exercisers keep working out, even at the risk of compromising physical health, family relationships, and jobs. They also don't tolerate interruptions in their exercise regimen and may lose interest in hobbies, turn to bizarre diets, and ignore medical advice to discontinue their program because of injuries. Even the famous runner James Fixx admitted, "When a runner comes to see a physician with an injury, it's his last resort. He'll have tried everything else he can think of that might enable him to keep running-including prayer."

For the body to achieve maximum health and fitness benefits, it must be allowed to completely recuperate and rebuild itself from an exercise session. Exercise benefits will be limited and even prevented from occurring when one doesn't allow enough time between sessions or when the body's recovery resources are depleted by excessive physical activity. Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the "Father of Aerobics," has said one may eventually overtrain from excessive activity. He believes there's a strong link between overtraining and weakening of the immune system and, therefore, disease. In addition, adding too much physical activity to a properly performed strength training program is not only unnecessary, but it can interfere with or completely prevent the results stimulated during strength training.

It's accurate to say that exercise doesn't directly produce any physical improvements within your body. It merely acts as a stimulus that causes the body to produce the improvements. Many people believe the very act of performing exercise produces improvements in their body and assume more exercise equals a greater degree of improvement. If this has been your belief, and you haven't reaped the desired physical benefits from your fitness program, maybe you should try to discover how little exercise your body requires for optimal results-instead of how much it can withstand. IBI