Exercise Addiction – Is It a Bad Thing?

Feb 16, 2016

Exercise is a great activity if you want to stay fit and healthy. No doubt about that. We are encouraged to exercise on a daily basis. Some of us persuade ourselves to go to the gym and increase our exercise levels. But just like with any good thing, too much exercise can become detrimental.

What is Exercise Addiction?

Exercise addiction is described as having persistent craving leisure-time activity. It leads to uncontrollable excessive exercise behaviour that comes in physiological (such as tolerance or withdrawal) and/or psychological symptoms (such as anxiety and depression).

How to Know if You Have Exercise Addiction

You know when you’re addicted to exercise if you have the following:

  • Feeling buzzed after exercising
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after a long period of no exercise
  • Uncontrollable desires to exercise
  • Becoming less devoted to other areas in life to make time for exercise
  • Spending long periods preparing and recovering from exercise
  • Unable to stick to a reduced exercise routine

Complications of Exercise Addiction

Anxiety and Depression

Exercise addiction is common in people with eating disorders. These people find exercise as a way to control negative emotions such as anxiety and depression. If they don’t exercise, they tend to feel guilty and anxious, and that they experience withdrawals if they don’t exercise.

Increased Risk of Addiction to Other Activities or Substances

Exercise addiction may come with warning signs of other addictions. Exercise addicts should avoid drugs, alcohol and other substances that cause addiction.


If you exercise too much, you can develop overtraining syndrome. Healthy athletes training for perfection can suffer overtraining symptoms, which are the short-term result of too little rest and recovery.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are the most common disorder to occur with exercise addiction. In some cases, exercise addiction could be fueled by eating disorders, depending on the motivation, symptoms and psychological process behind actions.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Too Hard!

Yes, you love exercise. And you can still go hard, but not too hard. Here are some ways:

Try complementary workouts. If you prefer back-to-back exercises, take a cardio training and a strength training, or boot camp followed by relaxation exercises such as Pilates. Doubling up workouts of the same kind can put your body into too much stress.

Rest. Skip a day or two in a week. Rest is also an important component of fitness. Your body wears down from doing exercise. It also needs time to recover.

Eat to fuel your body. You burn calories with exercise. The more exercise you do, the greater amount of calories you need. If you eat less, your body weakens and becomes unable to catch up with its physical demands.

If you’re tired or in pain, stop. Listen to your body. Pain is one way your body tells you that there’s something wrong. When you’re tired, your form falls apart, putting you at higher risk of injury.

Exercise is healthy as long as it is in balance. Just like anything else, too much of a good thing is bad. If you think you’re an exercise addict, seek advice from a health professional.  For your right physical programs call us today at (08) 9272 7359!