exercise addiction

Overcoming Exercise Addiction? Can exercise become addicting?

Compulsive exercise is a growing trend. How can one draw the line between healthy exercise and an obession with exercise?

Health and beauty have become two separate things entirely. Healthy exercise has now been confused for obsessive beauty requirements for some. So, the question is - how does someone know when they've actually become obsessed with exercising, instead of just living a healthy lifestyle? The answer is not very simple at all, in fact, it's become a very fine line in between the two sides.

First off, healthy exercise is most important for a healthy lifestyle, which is what most people try to achieve in their daily life. Healthy exercise is a normal amount of 20-30 minutes of a fitness routine a day or 3 times a week. However, there are some people that get to the point that exercise becomes an obsessive compulsion. Some people (especially, those who have had an eating disorder or BDD, Body Dysmorphic Disorder) become so obsessed with exercise to achieve the perfect body, that they will overwork and go to great lengths to acheive it. We are talking hours of exercise daily, everyday. While those with eating disorders might exercise to feel more in control of their life and/or emotions, those with BDD may focus more on one particular body part.  Either way, it's a dangerous fine line in between healthy exercise and obsessive exercising.

So how to know when healthy exercise becomes obsessive? There are many small, but very important factors to weigh in when deciding if someone has began to become obsessed with exercising rather than just a healthy lifestyle.  Here are a few red flags that typically can signal an obsession with exercise.

  • Feeling obligated to exercise even when exhausted.
  • Feeling guilty for not exercising.
  • Exercising even when the person's health is at risk.
  • Ignoring pain or illness during exercise to continue.
  • Setting unattainable goals and expectations.
  • Exercising interfering with relationships and friendships.

If anyone has experienced, or know someone who is experiencing these signs, it's best to go ahead and presume that one might be addicted to exercise. It's best to try to treat the issue as you would any other addiction and get help as soon as possible.  If someone is confused whether or not they are ,in fact, addicted to exercise - writing a journal of feelings about exercise can help determine if it's a serious addiction.  After a few weeks of entries, one would be able to deflect on the feelings and thoughts towards exercise enough to see if it has become a problem.