The Dangers of Exercise Addiction

Exercise and a healthy diet are excellent ways to stay healthy; however, moderation is the key to any successful program. Many people in America don’t exercise enough, but there are some people that fall on the other side of the coin.

Extreme exercise junkies are often compulsive about fitness. The recommended thirty minutes a day of moderate physical activity is not enough for these folks. Exercise addicts can frequently train as much as to three times a day and exercise sessions are sometimes up to 3 hours long.

Signs of Addiction

Exercise AddictionHow can you distinguish exercise addicts from health conscious exercisers? To answer this question, you need to take a look at the signs of addiction.

When an athlete or avid exerciser depends on exercise to dictate their mood on a daily basis, this may classify as addictive behavior.

Another sign of exercise addiction can be seen in someone who feels that they need to exercise regardless of the circumstances or potential outcome.

For example, there’s a difference between exercising when you’re sore or in moderate pain, and exercising when the pain is significant enough to cause permanent damage to your body.

People who are addicted to exercise don’t typically listen to their body when it’s screaming at them to stop a certain activity.

These same people often exercise regardless of what the weather is like, or event though it might cause them strain in other parts of their lives.

Risks of Exercise Addiction

There are many health risks associated with lack of exercise; conversely, there also a variety of problems that can because from too much exercise. This is definitely a case when too much of a good thing is certainly bad for you.

Physical Issues

The human body can only take so much activity and the dangers of overtraining can’t be ignored. Any fitness gains acquired from an exercise program can be quickly reduced due to the onset of an overuse injury.

While most people generally stop activity when injuries occur, an exercise junkie often works through the pain and constantly suffers greater injury. Pain and exhaustion are the body’s way of telling you to slow down or rest. If the signs are ignored, you can suffer further injury and even permanent damage to your body.

Social Issues

Like most addictions, what is otherwise a pleasurable experience can turn into an unpleasant one, if it is carried out too far. On many occasions, exercise addicts will feel an overwhelming sense of guilt or shame if they miss their workout during the day.

Depression becomes a very real issue if they are sidelined from exercise for any extended length of time. Too often, it’s a vicious cycle. The addict over trains and suddenly suffers an overuse injury; they are then forced to take time off of training and this causes them to feel is if they don’t have a sense of control and often results in depression.

Another issue for exercise addicts is the lack of time spent with friends and family due to exercise. Loved ones often take a backseat to their training programs. This can result in stress and often gets in the way of family duties and responsibilities.

This often puts a major strain on their personal lives. People who exercise compulsively also may not be able to enjoy the time that they do spend with their family and friends because they are thinking about working out.


Counselors that treat exercise addiction usually concentrate on the potential underlying causes of the problem. They typically try to refocus the addict’s unhealthy preoccupation of their own self concept.

Exercise addiction therapy aims at controlling the addict’s expectations of themselves. Many exercise addicts are perfectionists that become preoccupied with their own body. Treatment tries to help the addict to find a middle ground in their self-concept as well as in their training routines.

This will often happen through a gradual process of replacing some of the excessive exercise behavior with other healthy habits.

Training can still be an important part of the exerciser’s life, as long as it doesn’t jeopardize personal relationships or destroy their health in the process.