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Exercise Dependence

exercise dependance over exercise eating disorders can't stop

Written By Runnergirl Training

Exercise is beneficial for a variety of reasons.  Like anything else, exercise is the most beneficial when in moderation and balanced. Read more below.

Exercise becomes a problem and detriment  when according to ("Healthy Place," 2008), “the point where instead of choosing to participate in their activity, they have become "addicted" to it, continuing to engage in it despite adverse consequences. If dieting taken to the extreme becomes an eating disorder, exercise activity taken to the same extreme may be viewed as an activity disorder.”

 “If an exercise addict is unable to get to exercise for a time, they work out even more intensely the next time they get the opportunity to do so as if they must not possibly miss getting their maximum amount of physical exertion; essentially they're practicing obligatory exercise." ("The Good Drugs Guide," 2011).

Individuals who are addicted to exercise feel compelled to workout at all costs.  According to Jenkins et al (2000), “Often they will continue to workout even through the pain of an injury or against the advice of their physician. The psychological torment of not exercising is greater than the negative consequences that affect their physical and social well-being. Often when exercise is withheld, these individuals will experience irritability and depression. These symptoms are relieved by exercising, and thus the cycle is continued.”

Signs of exercise addiction include the following ("The Good Drugs Guide," 2011):

  • Choosing exercise over spending time with friends and/or family
  • Compulsive exercising such as getting up to exercise late at night
  • Exercising even when sick or tired
  • Feeling guilty when unable to exercise
  • Keeping extremely detailed records of workouts
  • Staying away from school or work to exercise
  • Withdrawal symptoms when unable to exercise
  • Frequent injury from over-exercising
Individuals who tend to over exercise are according to ("The Good Drugs Guide," 2011), “They are generally hard-working, task-oriented, high-achieving individuals who have a tendency to be dissatisfied with themselves as if nothing is ever good enough. The emotional investment these individuals place on exercise and/or diet becomes more intense and significant than work, family, relationships, and, ironically, even health.”

If you over exercise, what action can be taken to become balanced in your exercise program? According to ("The Good Drugs Guide," 2011), “When you are ready to get help for exercise addiction, look to a psychologist or a psychiatrist for counseling to uncover and address the root of the problem. Your doctor can refer you to someone qualified to help you quit using exercise in an inappropriate manner. The goal of treatment is to help the addict learn how to exercise enough to stay healthy, without becoming obsessed again.”

Simmons (n.d.) stated, “Certainly a physical examination by one's doctor will provide an objective evaluation of whether an exercise program is helping or harming one's body. If there is an associated eating disorder present, professional help is absolutely necessary for recovery. That might be individual and/or group therapy, inpatient or partial hospitalization treatment, or residential treatment, depending on the severity of the disorder.”

Healthy (2008). Over-exercising, over-activity. Retrieved from
Jenkins, E. , Williams, M. (2000). Exercise addiction and dependence. Retrieved from
Simmons, L. (n.d.). Exercise addiction.  Retrieved from
The Good Drugs (2011). Compulsive exercise. Retrieved from


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