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Don't take fitness too far

Don't take fitness too far

Working out and eating well has become something we like to show off these days. Try scrolling through your Facebook feed without spotting a gym-session tag or a picture of someone's "superfood" lunch. While there's nothing wrong with looking after yourself, it can be hard to keep an eye on that fuzzy line dividing a healthy approach and obsession. Particularly when it comes to exercise, you need to be on guard. We explore some of the signs that you're abusing workouts.

First off, it's really important you understand the exercise you're doing and how it affects your body. It's not simply about clocking up the calories or bragging about doing three classes in a row; you need to realise which parts are being strengthened and how to develop your routine. If in doubt, speak to a gym instructor or splash out on one session with a personal trainer. They can develop a plan that works for you.

Similarly, you need to make sure your focus is in the right place. If you're working simply on a calorie-burnt basis, you could be killing yourself with cardio and missing out on important strength moves. It's unsatisfying and demoralising to simply will the calorie counter to get to a certain point - you should be having fun! Instead, schedule days to work on separate areas of the body and break things up with the odd communal workout class.

If you fall into the calorie-burn camp, it's likely you're experiencing some form of pain. If your knees are constantly aching or your back pain won't ease, you're probably not doing something right. Take a break, schedule some physio sessions and let your body heal. Then work out a plan with a professional that includes dedicated rest days.

Finally, don't spend hours on end at the gym. It will seem like a never-ending punishment and there's only so much your body can take in one session. Limit yourself to a manageable time and plan something else into your evening, even if it's just getting home and reading a book. Having a focus will make your exercise more targeted and more effective.

And remember: if you're ever worried your habits are unhealthy, speak to your doctor and get the professional help you need.

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