5 Warning Signs of an Exercise Addiction

November 28, 2018 Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

Exercise addiction can sneak up on you in eating disorder recovery. Learn when you should be concerned about exercise addiction at HealthyPlace

It's beneficial to be committed to healthy living and choose to make fitness an integral part of your routine, but that passion for fitness could turn into an exercise addiction if you are susceptible to disordered eating behaviors. Being physically active is important for stress reduction, balanced emotions, hormone regulation, and optimal body functions. However, fitness can become more harmful than helpful when the need to work out feels driven by compulsion instead of enjoyment and wellbeing ("Compulsive Exercising"). Here are some indicators that your passion for exercise has turned into an exercise addiction—or an extension of your eating disorder.    

5 Exercise Addiction Warning Signs

If any of the following behaviors describe your current relationship with fitness, it would be advisable to seek out both treatment and support for a possible addiction to exercise. 

  1. You continue to workout in the midst of an illness or injury. When the body is in a weakened state, the immune system's functions are amplified in order to heal the infected or injured area. But when you decide to workout simultaneously, the immune system is forced to overexert itself which can deter the healing process and lead to more severe complications. If you are willing to risk your health just for the sake of a fitness routine, this is problematic. 
  2. You prioritize fitness over social activities or work obligations. In order to experience the most vitality in life, you need to find a balance of well-rounded pursuits and activities. This means to invest in relationships, actualize career goals, undertake new hobbies, and practice self-care. But if drastic amounts of time are spent exercising and these other commitments are sacrificed or overlooked, both your professional and personal spheres will suffer as a result. 
  3. You feel anxiety or remorse when you're unable to exercise. There will be instances when a vacation, work deadline, family matter, or situation outside your control might prevent you from squeezing in a workout. This is normal for even the most serious and dedicated athletes, but if you feel an extreme sense of guilt whenever your fitness routine is postponed, that's often an indication that your mind and body are dependent on the chemical "high" of working out.   
  4. You compensate for eating with intense, rigorous movement. One common eating disorder tendency is to punish the body with exercise instead of using it to build stamina and strength. Physical activity should be approached as a ritual for wellness, not a form of abuse. So if you tend to work out after a meal to purge the calories you just consumed and numb the discomfort of eating, then fitness has become another means and deprive yourself of nourishment ("Compulsive Exercise in Eating Disorders").   
  5. You don't allow time for the body to recover post-workout. Rest is a crucial aspect of any fitness routine because this enables the body to restore its depleted reserves of energy, and it fortifies the muscles, tissues, bones or nerves that were exerted during your workout. When you don't allow for an adequate recovery process to occur, this is known as overtraining, and it will increase the likelihood of both injury and fatigue the next time you exercise. 

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2018, November 28). 5 Warning Signs of an Exercise Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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Dr Musli Ferati
December, 12 2018 at 12:14 am

The dark side of exercise is its addiction throughout daily life functioning. So, it ought to be careful and demure with this health and useful activity. it happen often to become exult with the benefits of exercise, that lead us to addiction state with many dangerous repercussions for our global life wellness. As You mentioned in your purposeful article the custom to overuse exercise might to compromise many personal, occupational and social demands. In addition, the accomplishment of crucial life necessities and obligation presents somewhat spontaneous and original exercises, that are useful for our health state. beside this remark, we must prevent the habit to use exercises as tool to overcome daily anxiety, everywhere and at any time. In a word exercise should be important part of our daily life, but they shouldn't be abundant and compulsory practice, that damage seriously others vital life wants.

December, 23 2018 at 1:47 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. You are absolutely correct—even activities that are seen as healthy in most contexts can become dangerous and addictive if they are used in excess to the detriment of one's body. Thanks for reinforcing that fact!

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