Do you ever feel like what you're doing just isn't enough?
Exercise is good for you. Everyone knows. Turns out, you can over-do it though.
As expected, a recent study found a positive association between regular exercise and good mental health (60-90 minutes exercise 3 times per week).
But, it also found a negative association for those who go hard more often than going home (more-than-5 times per week, or 90+ minutes).
Now, I'm a Cognitive Hypnotherapist. Not a personal trainer. I won't debate optimum workout regimes. I'm more interested in the motivation. And these findings don't give the 'why'.
I got into weight-training a few years ago. I haven't done it for over a year. But I did nearly every day. And I felt better for it. (Some of the time).
What I didn't feel great about was a bad workout. Or a missed workout. Even when I physically had to because my body was screaming "STOP PUNISHING ME YOU MENTALIST". I was frustrated and angry at giving in.
I felt like a failure.
Being motivated is great. But there are two types: towards and away-from. AKA carrot and stick.
Both get you moving, but only carrots leave you feeling good on arrival. And because 'stick' is fear-based, you can be perpetually scared. Of breaking the chain. Falling off the wagon. Losing gainz.
Terrified of failure.
So. Does mental health suffer because you exercise too much? Or do you exercise too much because of your mental health? This is my interest.
How do you feel missing a training day? Accept life gets in the way sometimes, or angry and upset with yourself? What about booking a holiday? Happy taking a week off, or fretting to find a local gym?
"What's most important to me about exercising?". "What does it mean for me if I stop?". "What am I really afraid of?"
Start questioning. Find out what's really driving you.
It took me a little while to get this. And to learn - and really believe - I'm good enough as a person whether or not I can bench-press my own bodyweight. And now, funnily enough, I don't lift weights anymore.
I do run regularly though. But I'm a lot kinder to myself now about taking a few days off.
Study ref.: Association between physical exercise and mental health in 1·2 million individuals in the USA between 2011 and 2015: a cross-sectional study