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Exercise, Weight Issues, and Menstruation

Signs You're Exercising Too Much

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Updated December 10, 2007

Regular exercise is important for girls and women of all ages. Exercise significantly reduces the risk for many diseases and conditions including heart disease and many types of cancer. Getting regular exercise can significantly reduce the severity of the symptoms of conditions such as premenstrual syndrome or PMS, or menstrual cramps.

Exercise affects our bone health. Regular exercise helps to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. However, exercising too much or too hard can actually cause early bone loss.

Sometimes, women and girls can exercise too much, which often leads to a host of health issues for girls and women. Some signs you might be exercising too hard or too much include:

  • Having irregular periods or skipping periods altogether. Amenorrhea is a frequent result of too much exercise and sometimes occurs in girls who participate in sports such as track.
  • Being extremely thin to the point of looking unhealthy. While you might not see yourself as “too thin,” when other people make these type of comments to you it’s time to step back and try to look at your exercise and diet routine to see if you might be over doing it.
  • Losing weight too quickly, or losing too much weight.
  • Frequent exercise that is overly intense. This means, for example, working out on a treadmill for an hour, followed by an aerobics class, spending an hour doing weight lifting, and then swimming for another hour or longer.
  • Feeling that you “just can’t miss” your exercise routine for even a day.
  • Exercising even when others might take a day off. For example, do you exercise even when you are sick, on holidays, when you’re sick or injured, or regardless of what is happening in your life on a particular day? It’s normal to take some time off from your exercise routine occasionally, even weekly. If you never miss a day of exercise, you might be exercising too much.
  • Abnormal behaviors surrounding food. An eating disorder might be present if you, or someone you know, never eats in front of others or eats very little, frequently retreats to the bathroom immediately after eating, is preoccupied with food and meals or the amounts of calories, carbohydrates, or fats in food.
  • Being overly concerned about how an injury will affect your ability to exercise.
  • Being unusually concerned about self-image, body image, or what others think or say about your appearance.
  • Experience a significant amount of stress, anxiety, or depression or other physical and emotional signs of stress including talking about weight loss or dieting all the time.

Source:

Fitness and Bone Health for Women;NIAMS; accessed 12/10/07.

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