Published March 16, 2012
Believe it or not, there is such thing as exercise addiction. Despite the staggering levels of obesity, there is still the possibility of exercising too much. Here are three signs that you may be addicted to exercise:
Not exercising ruins your day
It is normal for an athlete to feel off when he or she does not exercise, says fitness expert Yu Hannah Kim, co-founder and president of Youble.com. However, people with exercise bulimia may base their self-worth on their fitness level and working out becomes closely intertwined with their identity. “Because they can’t win and no weight or fitness commitment will ever be good enough, they’ll put working out first and foremost on their priority list and are unable to find real joy outside of those calorie burning sessions,” Kim says. You may have an exercise addiction if your mood and outlook for the day hinges completely on whether or not you have or will exercise. Working out does release endorphins, which boost your mood, so it is normal to feel good after you exercise. However, people who are addicted to exercise may feel angry, anxious or depressed if they miss their workout, and beat themselves up over it.
Exercising become priority number one
Exercise addiction has many names and variations, including over-exercise, over-activity, compulsive exercise, obligatory exercise, anorexia athletica and exercise bulimia. One common thread is that these conditions or obsessions show that even good things can be taken to an extreme.
One sign that you are addicted to exercise is that it begins to interfere with other aspects of your life, and you start skipping work, class or social events to fit in your workout. You never seem to have time for anything else because you are preoccupied with getting to the gym or having enough time for your run. You significantly up your routine from an hour to two or three. It transcends from something you like to do to something you feel you must do.
You exercise despite your pain
People are addicted to exercise will push themselves to work out when they are sick. You may still try to play rec soccer if you still have a touch of a cold, but compulsive exercises will still try to go for a 10-mile rule despite their illness. They don’t let physical pain or injuries prevent you from working out. Do you allow yourself and your body time to rest and recover? This means taking a day off, a concept that may terrify over-exercisers.
You may reach the point where your body starts to fight back. You may experience a decrease in energy and performance capabilities, along with fatigue and a loss of emotional vigor. Perhaps you feel uncomfortable when not physically doing something or moving around.
Exercise disorders sometimes coincide with eating disorder-related symptoms and feelings, and often share the black and white way of thinking. If you have an exercise addiction, you may feel that you cannot work out unless you complete your entire routine. You may have a distorted view of your physical appearance. You may feel like people are staring at you when you are at the gym because you think you are overweight or out of shape.
Another sign of exercise addiction is a fanatical focus on calories burned while working out. Some people ignore when their body tells them to stop running because they need to burn “enough” calories. You may feel like you can’t eat or you have to severely alter your diet to make up for your missed workout.
Treatment for exercise addictions and activity disorders is often similar to that for men and women with eating disorders, especially if they coexist. Depending on the other issues at hand, it may require an inpatient treatment program and medical attention. The person may be required to stop exercising altogether and rest for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Therapists and counselors can work on the person on his or her underlying issues and help with the achieving of peace of mind and body.