It’s clear that regular exercise has many mental and physical health benefits. Studies show that it reduces the risk of certain health problems and improves mood and self-esteem. However, is it possible to exercise too much? Is exercise addiction a real issue?
Exercise Addiction Overview
Believe it or not, compulsive exercise is a behavioral disorder that affects many young adults. It involves an unhealthy obsession with exercise and physical fitness. The disorder becomes an addiction because exercise stimulates the release of endorphins. These chemicals create a pleasurable or reward effect in the brain. Unfortunately, the brain can quickly become dependent on this feeling.
Compulsive exercise disorder often develops because of a body image disorder or an eating disorder. As a co-occurring condition with an eating disorder, it can worsen the side effects. For example, women can lose an extreme amount of weight and develop organ damage.
Common Signs of a Problem
Where do people draw the line between moderate and extreme exercise? That question is difficult to answer because the right amount of exercise is relative to each person.
However, those with exercise addiction tend to work out even if it harms them or if they want to stop. They might also hide how much they work out from others. Below are other signs that indicate that someone has a problem.
Irritable After Missing a Workout
People who have an exercise disorder can become anxious, depressed, or agitated if they miss a workout. Even when they complete a series of consecutive workouts, missing just one makes them feel uncomfortable.
Not Stopping to Heal
Since they don’t like to miss workouts, they often exercise even when they’re injured or sick. They might suffer from exhaustion but fail to rest so that their bodies can heal. This behavior puts them at significant risk for further injury and illness.
Similarly, people with compulsive exercise disorder neglect their priorities just to work out. They miss work deadlines and family events, which affects their careers and relationships. When family conflicts develop because of their behavior, they might view exercise as an escape from the stress. With this perception, they would rather work out than address their emotions and resolve the problem.
Workout Results Determine Mood
When people with an exercise addiction return from their workouts, their moods can vary depending on the results. They obsess over how their bodies look or how fit they see themselves. When they aren’t happy with their appearance after exercising, they might fall into a foul mood. Because working out no longer makes them happy, it becomes more of a compulsive chore that they must do.
Extending Periods of Exercise
Whether or not they’re happy with their workouts, people who compulsively exercise may extend them. They push themselves to the limit to force further improvements even though they’re already physically fit.
Treatment for Behavioral Disorders
Do you or a loved one exhibit any of the above signs? It’s important to get compulsive exercise disorder treatment for this kind of dual diagnosis to prevent severe health problems. You or your loved one may even need help for an eating disorder. Magnolia Creek Treatment Center for Eating Disorders provides numerous programs and services that can help, such as:
Don’t let a behavioral disorder like eating disorders and exercise addiction ruin your or a loved one’s health. Get healing support in an encouraging, home-like environment. Reach out to our treatment center by dialing 205-409-4220 now.