Monday, December 1, 2008

Too much of a good thing?

Exercise is an integral part of any healthy living plan. While most of us struggle to find time to fit some form of exercise in to our daily routine, there are others who just can’t exercise enough. It can take on a form of obsessive behaviour, where the compulsion to exercise takes over and there is an internal struggle with guilt and anxiety if a work out doesn’t occur. Moderate exercise has a range of health benefits but the effects of over-exercising are not so well known.

Apart from the strain excessive exercise places on joints, ligaments and bones, the sensitive hormonal system that governs how our body functions can also be adversely affected. This is evident through irregularities in the menstrual cycle that can lead to a complete cessation of ovulation and menstruation, largely due to an oestrogen deficiency. Low levels of oestrogen cause calcium to be leached from bones, reducing bone density and contributing to osteoporosis. Strenuous exercise during menstruation may also contribute to the development of endometriosis, possibly related to a disturbance in the menstrual flow via the Fallopian tubes.

Moderate exercise, on the other hand, has many health benefits including improved cardiovascular health, increased bone density, maintaining a health body weight, preventing obesity and a general reduction in stress. Improvements in the menstrual cycle have been noted with a reduction in the severity of period pain, volume and duration of flow. Cyclic breast pain and tenderness are also less of an issue for women who exercise in moderation.

But what is moderate exercise? This will really depend on the individual and what their exercise goals are. The important factor here is your state of mind regarding exercise. Exercise addicts who simply can’t get through the day not exercising at least once may have deeper psychological issues that need exploring. Others who know they really should go to the gym but all they really want to do is go home and open a bottle of red may just need a little more motivation and will power. Focus on your goals and decide on the best way to achieve them. Over indulgence of anything can have its down side so keep a healthy, balanced attitude to your exercise routine to benefit from the hard work you are putting in.

Emma Scasni is a qualified naturopath at MassAttack Health Clinic and has a keen interest in women’s health. Emma is passionate about all aspects of natural health and is happy to offer support and advice to new and existing MassAttack members. MassAttack specializes in natural treatment programs for women with hormonal imbalances such as PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis & thyroid imbalance. Narelle Stegehuis, CEO of MassAttack, is the recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award 2006 and can be contacted at