Battling Exercise Addiction – When More Becomes Less

There is no denying the fact that we all want to look good. And what better way can there be to realize our dream by focusing on our overall fitness and well being. Fitness, which in reality is a composite of a healthy body and a healed mind, is often taken as a substitute for prolonged sessions of hard-core workout in the gym.

Exercise Addiction

We mistakenly associate our overall fitness to pounds that we shed and correlate calorie count to our success in weighing less. This may be encouraging to a certain degree; however, when it turns into an obsession, it becomes a burden on the body. Once you cross the fine line between fitness training and a troubling addiction, it makes you susceptible of anxiety and reduced social activity.

Simply put, like other forms of addiction, exercise addiction is a behavioural disorder where a person is constantly tempted to exercise. Following are recurring features of exercise addiction. Though the obsession maybe due to one or more factors, it usually stems from false body image perceptions and unkempt eating habits.

Inability To Control Exercise Urges

Exercise addicts find it difficult to stop training in all circumstances. They perform rigorous workout regimes even if they have an injury or wound that requires adequate rest time. This leads them to over train their bodies, exploiting their injury.


Another pre-dominant behaviour which is exhibited by exercise maniacs is that they continue to workout despite injuries, behavioural problems, social isolation or psychological issues.

Increased Impact

Fitness maniacs continue to escalate the intensity, frequency or impact of their exercises without consciously intending to so.

Time Consumption

Fitness fanatics spend a whole lot of time thinking, planning, or recovering from an exercise. This leads to a natural imbalance in their lives with workout related worries occupying their mind.

Less Involvement In Other Activities

Increased focus on exercise cuts down time for other activities, which may be very important for the trainer such as health check-ups, social gatherings, business meeting etc.

Social Withdrawal

A prominent behaviour exhibited by fitness maniacs is that they become socially withdrawn. This often leads to restlessness, stress, and aggression. Longer period without exercise makes these people irritable and moody.

What Causes Exercise Addiction?

Exact causes that lead to exercise obsession are still unknown. It is estimated that around 15% of gym goers are obsessed with their workouts. Mostly teenagers and adults in early 20s are susceptible to this condition.

Types Of Exercise Addiction

There are two types of exercise addictions i.e. first-hand addiction and secondary addiction.

First-Hand Addiction

First-hand addiction is a result of improper behavioural patterns; however, it is not linked with other psychological issues. It usually occurs in males as a result of the endorphins that are emitted after a workout session. The body accommodates itself to training by releasing endorphins which are a cause for trainer’s addiction.

Secondary Addiction

An exercise obsession that develops in conjunction with other food diseases such as bulimia or anorexia is known as secondary addiction. This type of disorder is common in females and stems from psychological issues related to body image.