While most of the U.S. is struggling with high obesity rates, some local health experts agree that in a health conscious community like Ahwatukee Foothills, over-exercising has become an issue.

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Paula Owens, who is a nutritionist and fitness expert, believes that some people become obsessive in their quest for a leaner physique.

“I’ve been in the fitness industry for 20 years, and I’ve seen people that think because exercising is healthy more is better,” she said. “Females who over-exercise and deprive themselves of proper nutrition can experience loss of menstruation cycles and ovulation, which sets them up for risk of osteoporosis and stress fractures.”

With a vast amount of experience working in a gym environment, Owens has seen over-exercising first-hand.

“I would be at the gym for four hours working with clients, and I would see over-exercisers come in and work out the entire time frame I worked with several clients,” she said.

According to Owens, signs of over-exercising include taking a longer time to warm-up, injuries, not being able to sleep and depression.

“Over-exercising is really the same as being addicted to drugs or alcohol,” she said. “There is almost always an emotional issue or attachment behind over-exercising.”

Some over-exercisers believe that as long as they vary their forms of exercising they won’t hurt themselves.

“Varying exercise doesn’t matter because the body doesn’t know the difference between the stress of running or swimming,” Owens said.

Lori Francoeur, clinic manager and physical therapist at Foothills Sports Medicine in Ahwatukee Foothills, has noticed over-exercising in many of her younger clients.

“Sports are so much more competitive today,” she said. “Kids will play their sport year-round, and then they’ll do additional training to get faster and jump higher that their bodies can’t withstand.”

According to Francoeur, when her young clients fall into a pattern of over-exercising, the injuries start showing up.

“Something has to give, and we see them in here for overuse injuries like tendonitis and muscle strains,” she said. “We see over-exercising in adults, but it’s scary how often we’re seeing it in younger kids, too.”

Everyone’s body is different, and both Owens and Francoeur encourage people to consult an expert to ensure they have a healthy exercise routine. Owens believes that allowing your body a recovery period is crucial.

“You should include one full day of complete rest with no exercise every week,” she said. “Cutting back to three or four training sessions per week can induce greater gains in strength and recovery.”

For more information on Owens’ views on healthy exercise, visit her Web site, www.PaulaOwens.com.

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