So, what exactly is an exercise addiction?

Do you know someone who has an exercise addiction?

The Truth About Exercise Addiction: Understanding the Dark Side of Thinspiration

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  • Recognizing exercise addiction is not based entirely on the quantity of your workouts. World-class athletes often train for long periods every day and they would not necessarily be labeled as addicts. Compulsive exercise is more about a person’s feelings toward exercise and how compulsive exercising affects their life. Here are some questions to ask yourself regarding exercise addiction:

    Treating exercise addiction is difficult and presents some very real practical challenges as unlike other addictions where abstinence is usually the ultimate goal, exercise is a positive activity and an important part of overall health. Thus in addition to several forms of cognitive therapy, the emphasis is on finding a balance and a return to moderate recreational exercise as opposed to stopping completely.[33] In some cases other forms of exercise may be suggested as well- for example a runner may be advised to take up swimming or a weight trainer advised to try hiking and other outdoor activities. Since exercise is often prescribed as a remedy for those suffering from depression, care must also be taken in ensuring that such at risk populations do not develop addictive behaviors by using exercise as their sole coping mechanism and by having physical activity dominate their lives. Essentially trading depression for a potentially harmful addiction. Nevertheless exercise remains a valuable tool in treating depression, but there is a need for more large scale studies documenting exercise addiction. It is hoped that this article will at the very least provide an overview of exercise addiction and help avid exercisers distinguish it from highly engaged forms of exercise. Like all addictions and disorders, if you do suspect that you have a problem, the earlier you get help the better the outcomes tend to be. It’s hard to look at a habit of regular exercise as a problem, but exercise can indeed sometimes be too much of a good thing.[34] Below is a standardized short form for basic evaluation of potential exercise addiction-

  • What You Need to Know
    Up to 3 percent of the general population and 25 percent of people dealing with other addictions meet exercise addiction criteria, according to the . So what, exactly, are these exercise addiction criteria? Scientifically speaking, there are seven red flags:

    Schreiber, a recovering exercise addict and writer, and Hausenblas, an exercise addiction researcher and health specialist, are committed to ensuring that newly minted gym fanatics, seasoned athletes, fitness professionals, and the mental health community alike are aware of the risk factors, consequences, and ways out of an addiction that is all too often misinterpreted as healthy commitment.

  • Warner, R & Griffiths, M. “A Qualitative Thematic Analysis of Exercise Addiction: An Exploratory Study.” Int J Ment Health Addict 4: 13–26. 2006.

- Misti, former exercise addict

Although the signs may be clear, there is on exercise addiction treatment. Yet researchers suggest abstaining from exercise entirely is not the way to beat addiction. Instead, working out in moderation or trying a new form of exercise may help control the amount of exercise performed. Try swapping swimming for , or for a day of heavy lifting.