While there are many great aspects of regular and rigorous training, very little press is given to the very real problem of exercise addiction. While not by any means in the same category of drug or alcohol addiction, more and more people exercise to the point where it causes some very real problems in their social and family life not to mention the injuries brought on by overuse.
While not recognized in the standard DSM-IV, a diagnostic manual used by the American Psychiatric Association to catalog disorders, excessive exercise is linked as being a symptom of an eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa . Some in the field see it as a form of obsessive compulsive disorder- especially when there is some ingrown fear that there will be a weight gain or loss of strength or muscle mass if they miss a single session of exercise.
Sadly, there is not much in the way of research into exercise addiction itself, however there are more and more cases of individuals that appear to have very real problems with exercise and who experience the classic symptoms of depression and withdrawal when it they are unable to do so.
Usually an individual suffering from exercise addiction will make decisions to work out even if it affects their physical and social well being and will become irritable and depressed if not allowed to follow their routine. These symptoms go away when exercise is resumed, very much in the way an addict’s withdrawal ceases with resumption of drug use.
The obvious question that comes to mind for most is where do you draw the line between healthy exercise patterns and an obsessive pursuit. Here are some warning signs that you may have a problem:
1. Consistent almost ritualistic routine of exercises or activity
2. Frequently exercising for more than one to two hours every day
3. A constant fixation on the number of calories burned, weight lost or muscle built
4. Exercising when sick or injured
5. Choosing to exercise over attending social or family events or classes
If you do find that you are sacrificing important aspects of your life to be able to exercise then you may want to seek professional help. Exercise is meant to be means to an end- the end being better health and being able to better enjoy your life, if however it becomes an end in and of itself, you may have a problem.
Celebrity personal trainer, Kevin Richardson is an award winning health and fitness writer, natural bodybuilding champion and the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training™. Get a copy of his free weight loss ebook here.