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Too much exercise?

Okay a little backstory. My sister is an addictive personality, she is a recovering drug, alcohol, cigarettes addict. She has been clean from drugs and alcohol for at least 6 years and gave up cigarettes nearly 2 years ago when she got pregnant with my neice. She is doing great.

My mom is concerned now and my mom is an RN that my sister has turned to exercise as an addiction. My sister goes to the gym at least 5 times a week and exercises hard for 2 hours at least. My mom thinks she has become addicted to the endorphines from exercise and is worried.

Is there such thing as too much exercise? As long as she's not injured should I join my mom in talking to her, or try to help my sister convince my mom she's fine. She does a combo of many things from spin and rebounding classes, to the elliptical and treadmill, to weights. She never works the same muscle group two days in a row though when she does do weights. Even if my mom is right and she is addicted to the endorphine rush is that really a bad thing? My mom is not the healthiest person in the world and is prone to jealousy so I'm not sure if this is her jealous of my sister or if it's a legitimate concern, so I'm just looking for the opinions of other health conscious individuals.

Oh and if it helps my sister is 5'7, 147 lbs and is currently wearing a size 3. Thanks for reading this long thing and for your advise.


Mon. Jun 4, 8:41am

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Yes, it is most definitely possible to be addicted to exercise. At it's most extreme, it is a form of anorexia (or at least, similar, and does similar things to your body, particularly in combination with low-calorie diets.) The endorphins are addictive as well. Does your sister eat much? One would probably need well over 2000 calories a day, with a high level of complex carbs, as well as proteins, to healthily maintain that kind of exercise program. Athletes in training may exercise that much, and it's not necessarily detrmental, but they do need to be sure to eat the proper nutrients, in the proper amounts, as well as be fitted for proper workout attire/shoes, so that they reduce the risk of sustaining injury. And, should injury occur, they need to be able to rest long enough to fully heal.

Your sister is not necessarily hurting herself, but she might be. It'd be beneficial for her to see a sports doctor or nutritionist to be sure that she's getting what she needs in order to keep up that level of exercise. Or, if it's an addiction, she may need counseling.

Monday, June 04, 2007, 1:03 PM

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Is she losing weight or attempting to do so with this exercise program? (it doesn't sound like she needs to-with her stats). I would say if she is eating normally and well then she is fine. I exercise 6 days a week for at least an hour each time, more if i'm doing weights or yoga and I am at a healthy weight (now-once upon a time I was very overweight). I really love exercise now, and I feel crappy when I miss a workout or two, but in no way do I feel that this is an unhealthy thing (for me). I am always looking to better my performance and strength. With your sister's background-it might be a different story but it is hard to tell without knowing how she reacts to missing exercise.

Monday, June 04, 2007, 1:11 PM

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I had a friend who was addicted to exercise. She graduated from a very prestigious and expensive university with a degree in business, but decided to become a personal trainer instead (not that this is a bad career choice, but she could've saved herself over $100k if she had thought of that before going to college), and she made that decision because working in an office for 8 hours a day, and not being able to work out during that time period, gave her anxiety attacks! Clearly not too healthy!

2 years later, she had to stop being a personal trainer after she was hospitalized for about a week, after getting too extreme (not entirely sure the circumstances; she's kept them pretty private), and her doctor ordered her to stop, and to stop exercising and start eating. Now she works in an office, and seems to be getting healthier, with less exercise!

Monday, June 04, 2007, 2:37 PM

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size 3

I'm 5'8" and 144 lbs and can barely fit a size 6! Where is this magical size 3 at?

Monday, June 04, 2007, 2:51 PM

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It's possible that she's addicted, and possible that she just likes it.

We tend to forget this, but there are actually people who do hard physical labor all day long to support themselves. 2 hours a day isn't inherently self-destructive. But as another poster mentioned, if you can't stop when you really need to stop, that is a problem.

Monday, June 04, 2007, 2:55 PM

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OP here.
Thanks for the positive advise. She was working to lose weight after the baby but has reached her 'goal weight' now. She has actually put on a couple lbs in the last few months which she is assuming is muscle weight.

For the 2:51 poster my sister and I must be blessed with great body shapes cause I'm 5'8' 140 and where a size 3 or 4 depending on misses or juniors. My sister weighs more than I do and is shorter but according to a caliper test she had done has only 5% body fat and a lot of muscle which accounts for why she can be the same size as me with being an inch shorter and 7lbs more.

Monday, June 04, 2007, 2:58 PM

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Whoa! Now THAT catches my attention as unhealthy! 5% body fat for a woman is not a level that would be in a healthy range. The only women I know that do that, very temporarily, are serious body builders just prior to competition, and they don't even try to keep that up for more than a very short period of time. It's great that she's been able to get her muscle mass up and sculpt her body, just keep in mind that being significantly underweight is actually a bigger health risk than overweight, especially for women. Is she still menstruating? If not, that's a pretty clear sign that her body needs more rest, nutrition and a little less intensity/duration in exercise.

Monday, June 04, 2007, 3:24 PM

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She got an IUD after her baby was born and hasn't had a period since then. She's always had very low body fat % and in elementary school was the #1 female in the state ranking for low body fat %. Her body is a lot like a guys in that she can get a low body fat easier than other women... but yes that is one of the things that has my mom concerned was when she was bragging about her body fat %.

Monday, June 04, 2007, 3:37 PM

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All of the body fat tests are subject to some error, and in the case of calipers, the body fat formula is constructed by regression analysis on a set of sample people, and that set probably had few or no people with similar measurements, so it just isn't a reliable metric for someone so different from the typical shape. Also, even if you measure 5 to 7 points, calipers only see subcutaneous fat and not visceral fat, etc. I think there have been a couple of recent papers on people with little subcutaneous fat but more visceral fat than had been expected (as determined by MRI - not routinely available fo the public for this use). Wish I had the references.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 4:09 PM

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The size 3 at 147

I have a friend who is an avid weight lifter. She lifts 5 days a week. She is 170 at 5'8 and is a size 6! Muscle weights more than fat. It's that simply. If you're simply doing cardio and not buliding muscle you will not pull those stats off. It's really a matter of choice. I do 1/2 of cardio and 1/2 to 45 minutes of machine lifting 4-5 days a week. It's really a matter of choice, but personally as a woman who just hit 40 I feel I need weights for shaping and sculpting as yoga just didn't do it for me.

There's my two cents.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 4:18 PM

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IUDs typically make one's periods heavier; they should not prevent one from having a period. If she's still nursing, though, she might not get a period until the baby starts eating other foods.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 4:26 PM

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There are IUD's with hormones added (progesterone, I think?) that will suspend periods in many women, so that's a possibility. Still, we are talking about a woman who has demonstrated addictive issues in the past, so the idea that she may be using exercise and diet in an unhealthy way is a reasonable question to ask. Any chance to get her checked out by a doctor who has some familiarity with eating disorders?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 5:18 PM

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I know a couple of women who specifically went onto an IUD to avoid periods for few years. I don't know which kind but they both had very difficult periods and their doctors recommended it.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007, 10:51 PM

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OP again. to 5:18

That's kind of part 2 to the drama. My sister is willing to go see an eating specialist to be evaluated but only if my 12 year old sister goes too. The exercise sister thinks the 12 year old is annorexic which my mom addimantly denies. So my exercise sister even though she doesn't think she has a problem is willing to go, if they get the 12 year old evaluated too... my mom refuses to get the 12 year old evaluated.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007, 7:58 AM

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5% BODY FAT!!!!!????

Extremely unhealthy. Get her some help now. I read magazines geared towards fitness competitors and the lowest I've seen are 8% on season and a few more off season. 5% is way too low.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007, 8:18 AM

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confused

how can she be 5'7'' 147 and wearing a size 3? y'alls clothes must be vanity sized.

I'm 5'7'' 115lbs and wear a size 3.

to the 4:26 poster not all IUD's make periods heavier. There are 2 forms of IUD, copper which does generally make periods heavier (thats what I have in place) and there is an IUD with harmons in it, it stops periods all together.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007, 12:18 PM

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Too much exercise

This doesn't sound like too much exercise to me. Exercise is a great way to combat depression and so the endorphins it gives one are a plus, not a minus. I think your sister should simply watch out that doing it for ten hours a week doesn't become more important to her than taking care of herself in all of the other important ways - i.e., in relation to her daughter, her family, her health, her home, her finances, et cetera -- in other words, that it doesn't take on the qualities of an addiction.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007, 12:39 PM

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to 12:18 pm:

muscle/fat and general body composition have a lot to do with our size and body shape. i have a friend who is taller than me and technically weighs less but wears clothes two sizes larger than me when we shop at the same stores. why? because she hasn't worked out a day in her life-whereas I'm dedicated to being fit and have a lot of muscle on my body which allows me to wear smaller clothes. vanity sizing definitely exists but with it doesn't change that people of different heights and weights can be smaller or larger than you because of body composition.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007, 1:38 PM

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