Compulsive exercise (sometimes called exercise addiction) happens when a person is driven to exercise too much. Injury, illness, going out with friends, or bad weather will not stop those who compulsively exercise.
Why Do Some Teens Exercise Too Much?
Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But athletes may strive to exercise more and more to improve their sports performance. Personal goals, coaches, teammates, or parents may pressure athletes to push themselves too far.
Compulsive exercising and eating disorders often happen together. Someone with an eating disorder also may work out excessively to lose weight. Someone with bulimia may use exercise as a way to compensate for binge eating.
Some people believe they can achieve an impossible ideal body type if they keep exercising.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Compulsive Exercise?
Compulsive exercisers often:
won't skip a workout, even if tired, sick, or injured
can't take time off and seem anxious or guilty when missing even one workout
are constantly preoccupied with their weight and exercise routine
lose a significant amount of weight
exercise more after eating a lot or missing a workout
eat much less if they can't exercise
skip seeing friends, give up other activities, and abandon responsibilities to make more time for exercise
seem to base their self-worth on the number of workouts completed and the effort put into training
are never satisfied with their own physical achievements
It can be hard to diagnosis compulsive exercise. There is no agreement on how much exercise is too much. A person who continues to exercise in spite of injury, health problems, or poor relationships may have an exercise addiction.
How Is Compulsive Exercise Treated?
A therapist can help someone with an exercise addiction change unhealthy behaviors, work on exercise moderation, and find coping strategies.
Treatment also includes:
resting or reducing exercise
finding alternative exercise plans
nutrition counseling and education about overexercising