Exercise Addiction

We all hear plenty about how exercise is great for you, that’s for sure. I mean, seriously, it helps you sleep better, it’s a great natural depression fighter, it keeps your heart healthy and your mind younger, and the list goes on, right? Yeah, that’s all true. But, that only goes for exercise in healthy doses. A healthy dose for you may be different than a healthy dose for me, though.

The thing is, you just want to watch that exercise doesn’t become a compulsive behavior for you. If you begin to feel like you must exercise, especially to an excess, you might be creeping up on it becoming a compulsion, which is no longer “good” for you.

You see, there are those who exercise all day because they enjoy it so much that they became a personal trainer and work with clients all day long. However, they don’t over do it, don’t feel like they have to do it or they’ll feel bad or face negative consequences if they don’t. Then there's a person who’s lost in their own mind/world worrying about how much exercise they’ve done that day and obsessing over needing to cram more into their day.

People who have an addiction to exercise tend to:

- Have a loss of control – the inability to discontinue exercise when it’s needed, such as for injuries, because they need time to rest or heal, etc.

- Experience a continuance – they just keep on exercising even when they know they shouldn’t and when they know it’s doing harm to themselves.

- Forget their intentions – meaning, they keep exercising, past whatever goal they set, past whatever limit they set, for a longer time frame than they set out to, etc.

- Build a tolerance – suddenly, where a certain duration of exercise, level of ability, or level of intensity is no longer good enough, they must do more, exercise harder, etc.

- Spend more time exercising – they begin to stop doing other things, so they can spend more time exercising, blowing off prior engagements, making excuses, or whatever it may be.

- Experience withdrawal – when the person is unable to exercise their desire, they may become panicked, anxious, sad, depressed, angry or irritable. Unable to go about their day, or go about daily functions if they haven’t gotten their desired exercise in.

Exercise addiction sometimes just happens on its own, sometimes it’s linked to another mental health issue like substance abuse or depression. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it might be time to get some help, please reach out if you need it!

Cornell, R. “Exercise Addiction”. Project Know. (website).2017
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