Unhealthy vs. Healthy Exercise


By: Justine Van Herk

Faculty Human Kinetics Master’s Student, University of Windsor


Exercise is most often thought of as a healthy habit and associated with many mental and physical benefits. However, too much of anything can be harmful. This is why it is important to set boundaries and recognize if you have taken things too far. Consider the list below to evaluate where your personal habits stand:

Healthy exercise= Feeling Tired vs. Unhealthy exercise= Exhausted

It is normal to feel tired and sore after a workout. It is important to acknowledge how you are feeling post-workout so you can gauge your body’s natural limitations. It is also completely acceptable to push yourself past this natural limit every now and then to improve, especially if you are an athlete. Conversely, if you are exercising until your body physically gives out, this could be detrimental to your health. Regular excessive exercise can lead to health consequences including dehydration, fatigue, tendonitis, and chronic pain. It is important to be conscious of how your body feels post-exercise. If you are feeling exhausted or in pain after a workout, consider adjusting your routine.

Healthy exercise= Taking breaks vs. Unhealthy exercise= Non-stop

Exercise causes wear and tear on our muscles. Taking breaks is essential to allow the body time to heal, rebuild, and become stronger. Without these breaks, the strain of exercise will cause more damage to the muscles and inhibit many of the benefits of exercise. Rest days are an essential part of a workout routine. Avoid feelings of guilt as rest is crucial and should be incorporated throughout one’s exercise schedule! Exercise is a healthy habit but not in excess.

Healthy exercise= Reward vs. Unhealthy exercise= Punishment

Exercise is a celebration of what your body can do. It gives us an opportunity to take time for ourselves for some positive self-care. As we exercise, our body releases “feel good” chemicals called endorphins. It is important to exercise because it makes you feel good instead of using exercise as a punishment. If you are not satisfied with your body, punishing your body through strenuous, excessive physical activity is not the solution. Instead think of exercise as a time to focus on yourself, your goals, and as an opportunity to improve! Your motivations to exercise should be positive in the pursuit of good health.

Overall, it is important to apply moderation in all aspects of exercise. Consider how often you exercise, take breaks, and your motivations behind exercise. If you have a balanced exercise routine with positive motivations you are practicing healthy exercise! If not, make small adjustments and work towards a routine that is well-rounded. If you are struggling to attain a balanced routine, consider speaking to a loved one or a local health professional for support. Exercise should be rejuvenating for the mind-body connection and alleviate mental and physical stress.

For more information including signs and consequences of unhealthy exercise visit:


Reference: https://seedeatingdisorders.org.uk/blog/healthy-vs-unhealthy-exercise