Review: The Exercise Balance

What's Too Much, What's Too Little, and What's Just Right For You

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Pauline Powers, MD, and Ron Thompson, PhD, are the authors of a wonderful book entitled The Exercise Balance: What’s Too Much, What’s Too Little, and What’s Just Right for You! Dr. Powers is a psychiatrist, professor at the Health Sciences Center, University of South Florida and director of a residential eating disorders program. Dr. Thompson is a psychologist specializing in athletes and eating disorders at Indiana University-Bloomington.

He has also worked with the NCAA and the International Olympic Committee Medical Commission.

Although it seems to be a short book physically, it is packed with wonderful information on finding the right amount of exercise for each individual person. Drawing on their medical and psychological knowledge, Dr. Powers and Dr. Thompson detail what constitutes too much exercise, including what compulsive exercise and exercise related to eating disorders looks like and how they can affect the body. 

On the other side, they detail what the consequences of inadequate exercise are, and make suggestions about how to find a balance of moderate and appropriate exercise.

Too Much and Too Little Exercise Covered

The book addresses some of the mood disturbances and psychological effects of over- and under-exercise — something that is sometimes lacking in other books on the topic.

There is also a full chapter devoted to the special needs of competitive athletes and how their diet and lifestyle must accommodate the additional demands on their bodies.

It details specific consequences that competitive athletes may be more at risk for, such as the female athlete triad, stress fractures from over-training, and mood disturbances.

In addition to over- and under-exercise, the book discusses topics such as exercise at various ages throughout your lifetime, and how people with chronic illnesses can include exercise in their lives.


There are multiple questionnaires and diagrams to help anyone determine where they fit on the exercise continuum, as well as specific recommendations for when to seek professional consultation on the topic of exercise.

This book is well researched and contains all of its sources for anyone who is interested in reading further on a specific topic. It is also written in an easy-to-read language that is easily understood by people without medical or psychological training.

Who Is This Book Right For?

Quite honestly, I’d recommend this book to anyone.

There seems to be a pervasive and underlying message in our society that more exercise is always better. However, there are also many people struggling with over-exercise or compulsive behaviors. This book addresses this topic by providing the symptoms and consequences of such behaviors. However, it also addresses the issues created when someone doesn’t exercise enough. 

The inclusion of information on exercise at various ages and with different complicating factors such as chronic illnesses makes this a great book for a variety of people.


In addition, this book is a wonderful resource for therapists and dieticians who specialize in working with eating disorders. I’d also recommend it for anyone who is in recovery from an eating disorder and/or compulsive exercise behaviors and is interested in beginning to exercise moderately. Family members of those with eating disorders may find the book interesting and helpful, as well.

The Exercise Balance: What's Too Much, What's Too Little, and What's Just Right For You! was published in 2007 by Gurze Books.

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