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Exercise addiction

You might feel like you have to exercise, that you can't miss out on your exercise routine


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Exercise is great – it gets you fit, helps relieve stress and can increase your energy. However, over-exercising is not healthy and can do more harm than good.

What is exercise addiction?

Exercise addiction means that you are exercising too much, too intensely or for too long. You may find that the need to exercise is taking control of your life or you make yourself exercise even if you’re injured or sick. Exercise should be fun, not a routine that you are unable to break out of.

You could be over-exercising in this way with the goal of keeping your weight, muscles or body shape under control. Exercise addiction can be linked to anorexia.

How do I know if I’m addicted to exercising?

  • You might feel like you HAVE to exercise and that you can’t miss out on your exercise routine.
  • Maybe you exercise even when you’re injured, sick or very tired.
  • You might feel guilty, depressed or anxious when you’re not able to exercise.
  • You might become isolated or withdrawn from friends or family.
  • You might worry that your work, study or social life gets in the way of exercise.
  • Maybe friends or family are worried that you exercise too much.

What happens if I over-exercise?

Too much exercise can cause injuries such as stress fractures, damage to bones or joints, torn muscles, ligaments and tendons. Your immune system can also be affected, meaning that it’s easier for you to get sick.

Constantly worrying about your body image and about how you look can lead to eating disorders.

How do I stop over-exercising?

  • If you’re worried that your exercise routine is unhealthy, then talk to a doctor or qualified trainer about planning a safe and healthy exercise routine for you.
  • Think about the reasons you over-exercise and talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling.
  • Make sure you have rest days in your exercise routine.
  • Try to add variety into what you’re doing – if you work very hard one day, then go for a relaxing walk the next day or exercise for less time.
  • Don’t push your body too far. If it’s hurting or you're tired you should stop exercising, otherwise you risk injuring yourself or making yourself sick.
  • If you worry about your body image or have an eating disorder, talk to someone. Contact Bodywhys by calling 1890 200 444.
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Published December 19th, 2012
Last updated October 29th, 2015
Tags exercise addiction body image
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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