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Competition is Healthy….Right?

Posted Jul 11 2014 10:03pm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA For many people, the drive to get healthy, to exercise is influenced, in part by a type of friendly competition between exercise buddies, friends, between a trainer and his client, or even in some cases between members of a loving family.  In many ways competition provides a fun, energetic way to push yourself, to hold yourself accountable, and yes, to even when that race.

But is it always healthy?  Is competition among friends the best way to go?  Sometimes competition can turn a little unhealthy.  Here are a few indicators that that friendly battling among you and your friends might be doing more harm than good.

Indicator #1:  Another’s Success Sends You into a Emotional Tail Spin

Your friend, Mary has reached her goal of having a dress size of 9 first.  How do you react, really?  Are you happy for her, or do you look at her with feelings of resentment, or worse yet, depression.  When a side by side comparison between the two competitors leaves nothing but resentment or feelings of depression, or excuses, you might want to take a look at your competitive streak.  Is it doing more harm than good?

Indicator #2:  Another’s Success Doesn’t Bring Inspiration

Let’s face it, there are times when those before and after pictures plastered over the internet can get a bit much.  Sure, they’re meant for inspiration, but I know at least for me there have been times when my first reaction is “yeah…right.  No real person could look like that…”  Negative thoughts happen.  But when almost all your thoughts are defeatist or negative in nature, that healthy competition between you and someone else, might not be so healthy anymore.

Indicator # 3:  The Competitive Drive is Leading to Injuries

Honestly I see this more than I’d like, especially among team sports, and even weight lifting.  The desire to do just one more dead lift, make one more lap, just make that one more tackle.  That desire to bring down your opponent, to win the prize, what ever it may be can be can bring just about anyone to new heights.  It also, however can blind a person to his or her body’s own warning system.  When pain, or some other body warning signal is ignored for too long, bad things can happen.


So you’ve come to the realization that you may be practicing a little unhealthy competition.  What can you do about it?  Well, there are a few things.  First, take a small break from your friends, teammates, or family and do some exercise on your own.  Talk to your friends about it and let them know that you’re getting a bit too competitive for your own good.  They’ll understand, and probably have noticed.  Also, consider doing activities where one on one competition isn’t as  prevalent, such as team sports.  Finally, see if you can figure out exactly why your competitive streak turns unhealthy.  It may take a little time, but you’ll be better for it in the long run.

About Laura Seeber ( 74 Posts )

Laura Seeber is a geologist, environmental professional, writer, and outdoor and nature enthusiast. Born just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Laura has spent the majority of her life hiking through the forest, descending into caves, climbing over boulders and up cliffs, navigating river rapids, and writing and blogging about her adventures. She currently resides in Illinois and travels country in search of the next great outdoor activity or adventure.

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