Exercise addiction, also known as compulsive exercise or exercise dependence, is a condition in which a person becomes excessively preoccupied with exercise and experiences negative consequences as a result.
How many of these can you relate to?
- Excessive exercise: You use excessive and compulsive exercise as a means to burn calories, control weight, and counteract any perceived overeating. You struggle to sit still and are always fidgeting
- Exercising despite injury or illness: Continuing to engage in intense physical activity despite being injured or sick.
- Withdrawal symptoms: Feeling restless, anxious, or irritable when unable to exercise,
- Neglected responsibilities: Prioritizing exercise over important obligations, such as work, relationships, or social activities.
- Preoccupation with exercise: Constantly thinking about exercise, planning future workouts, or feeling anxious when unable to adhere to a rigid exercise schedule
- Tolerance and escalation: Needing to exercise for longer periods or with higher intensity to achieve the same level of satisfaction or perceived benefits.
- Negative impact on mental health: Experiencing increased anxiety, depression, or irritability when unable to exercise, and using exercise as a coping mechanism for stress or emotional issues..
- Social isolation: Withdrawing from social activities or relationships to prioritize exercise, resulting in a reduced quality of life and strained interpersonal connections
- Denial and defensiveness: Becoming defensive or in denial when confronted about excessive exercise habits, downplaying the negative consequences or refusing to consider reducing exercise.
Exercise addiction is frequently, but not always, linked to an eating disorder or body image issue.
For me, I used exercise to burn calories, but the results were never enough for my ED voice, which kept telling me to keep training, keep training and one day I'll be enough.
I learned how to re-program my thoughts and recognise what I was actually doing to my body and how I was breaking down my own body as a result.
As your coach, I now use the same processes, in conjuction with treating the underlying reasons for your thoughts, to help you become well again and change your relationship with exercise permanently.
There is no set timeline. Everyone is different. The key is to take the 1st step, then another and another until you find that life is different and you can live a normal life again.