The Problem With Using Intense Workouts to Deal With Chronic Stress

Stress is an unavoidable part of life. While some stress is natural and even healthy, it becomes an issue when that stress turns chronic. Chronic stress can disrupt our sleep, mess with our immune system, throw our digestive system off, and impact our cardiovascular health. While exercise is often touted as a natural stress-buster, too much intense exercise can hinder our physical and mental wellbeing.


When to Exercise Less

If you are feeling undeniably stressed, you may hit the gym to distract yourself from the issue causing the stress and to feel a sense of relief. For many, this is a great way to deal with pressure. Regular exercise helps with the production of endorphins, which are chemicals associated with a positive mood. However, it is possible to get attached to endorphins produced by exercise, developing a dependence on what was once very good for us. It is possible to develop a compulsive behavior, and they put more pressure on themselves to work out more frequently with greater intensity. In a cruel cycle, over-exercising contributes to chronic stress.


Developing a healthy workout routine is not just necessary for keeping your body physically fit, but for keeping stress at bay and not letting it control your workouts. Yet, for some, hugely intense workout sessions are only a distraction from the stress, both physically and mentally. This can end up taking a toll on your body through injuries and your mind through breakdowns.


Nowhere does it say you need to work out for several hours a day to effectively handle stress. When you are suffering from chronic stress, you may put more pressure on yourself to get in more workouts and exercise with more intensity. There needs to be a balance between exercise and rest. Working out can definitely be used in excess and become a hindrance.


What to Do Instead

If you are unhappy with some aspect of your life, it’s time to implement a change instead of beating your body into submission until you’re too tired to feel anything anymore. Intense exercise sessions aren’t the only tool in your tool belt to cope with stress.


These tips can be helpful when you’re trying to scale back your workouts to improve your mental and physical wellbeing:

  • Work with a professional to determine healthy ways to manage stress and keep your health in check.
  • Replace your intense workouts with gentle forms of movement, such as yoga or walking around the park.
  • Schedule other appointments during your normal workout time – get a massage, meet up with friends, or run errands instead.
  • Ramp up your nutrition by developing a healthy eating plan to help you feel good from the inside out.


If you’re feeling anxious or depressed and are over-exercising to cope, you could be doing more harm than good. While you can’t always control how much stress comes into your life, you can control how to handle it. Choose to handle it positively and healthily.


Feeling like you need a little help to get jumpstarted on your health and wellbeing? To get started on obtaining your health and fitness goals, contact Genesis Performance. We will help you fit in strategic nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle wellness practices into your current schedule and inspire you to reach optimal health. We help clients across the nation virtually, so even if you’re self-isolating during this time, we are here for you.

Jenna Dillon

Founder & CEO

Jenna is an Executive Coach committed to working with high performing individuals and companies who are up to exploring what they’re capable of achieving within their lives, careers, company culture and leadership. She is passionate about empowering her clients - standing with them and for them - so they have the tools to create extraordinary results.