Exercise Addiction is Too Much of a Good Thing

Everywhere we look, we are told we are fat and need to lose weight. For the majority, that constant drone from the TV and magazines goes ignored, but for a growing number, fitting in a workout isn’t just no-big-deal, it’s non-negotiable.

With the emphasis on fitness, calories and weight loss, eating and exercise disorders emerge as many turn from a healthy consciousness of food and exercise turns to an unhealthy obsession. But when is that line crossed? When does making your workouts a priority go from a healthy habit to a dangerous punishment?

Professionals recommend getting 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most days of the week, but many are racking up 3-6 hours daily between morning runs, yoga classes and trips to the gym. To those on the outside, their dedication to fitness is awe-inspiring, but to those affected, exercise addiction is a dangerous and unhealthy disorder.

Exercise addiction can usually be classified into two groups: over-exercisers and exercise bulimics. Over-exercisers tend to be type A personalities and are very goal oriented individuals who use exercise as a way to push themselves to their limit for that hit of endorphins and sense of accomplishment. Exercise bulimics often starve themselves in addition to exercising for extended periods of time to purge as many calories from their body as possible to lose weight.

There is no one way to tell if someone is suffering from exercise addiction. It’s a blurry, gray line, and what’s good for some isn’t good for everyone. Exercise is necessary to lead a healthy life, but a healthy balance is also important.

Here are some signs you may be letting exercise rule your life:

  • You feel a constant obligation to workout and feel guilty or ashamed when you can’t.
  • You compromise your safety to workout (ex. you workout with an injury because you don’t want to take time off).
  • You exercise when you are sick or fatigued.
  • You experience irregular or an absent period.
  • You put exercise before work, family, friends or prior engagements.
  • Your family and friends express concern over you exercise habit.

If you think you may have an exercise addiction, talk to your doctor about how to get help.

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