A generally healthy activity, exercise has been a recommended activity for individuals of all ages and walks of life. It can help in the development of the physique and can contribute to a number of health benefits such as building and maintaining healthy bones and muscles, reducing the risk of disease, and promoting psychological well being. The last item is major contributor to a serious disorder referred to as exercise addiction. Exercise often makes an individual feel good about one’s self, and this sometimes leads to an excessive and unhealthy preoccupation with the activity. Exercise addiction jeopardizes other aspects of an individual’s life since the addicted individual makes exercise the central part of his or her every waking hour.
Exercise addiction is also referred to as compulsive athleticism, exercise abuse, and exercise dependence. As a result of this compulsion to exercise, other responsibilities, such as career, family, and other social engagements, suffer. The motivation of each individual to exercise varies; some may do it to achieve a “high,” some due to a desire to control their weight or body shape, while others simply cannot fight the urge to exercise. These individuals feel a great deal of fear or anxiety when they are denied the opportunity to exercise. Exercise addicts usually adhere to very strict fitness regimens and exercise by themselves. They feel the need to exercise even when injured or indisposed, which leads to more serious complications or injuries.
Although exercise addiction has damaged many lives and relationships, it is currently not accepted in the medical profession as a primary psychological disorder. Often, it is associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder and dismissed as a mere symptom. Other disorders also conceal the existence of exercise addiction such as bulimia and anorexia, which also push an individual to exercise obsessively. At present, little is known about the nature and causes of exercise addiction, and studies are continuously being conducted to gain insight on the condition and its appropriate treatment.