Exercise is an important part of life that allows us to remain healthy and active. But as the saying goes, “too much of anything is not good for you.” And this also applies to working out. Regardless of age, compulsive exercise can cause more harm than good. If you are a gym goer you will want to be aware of what the signs and symptoms are of compulsive exercise so that you can prevent yourself from injury.
It may seem difficult to believe but it is possible to become addicted to exercise. For some people the act of working out in order to lose weight and sculpt their bodies can become an obsession if not caught and corrected in time. The consequences of compulsive exercise include: unhealthy weight loss, exhaustion, dehydration, muscle strain and fractures.
When combined with an eating disorder and other unhealthy methods, too much exercise can result in death in extreme cases. Teenagers and young women in particular are two groups that are common targets for compulsive exercise. Body image and weight issues can cause many young women to push themselves too hard. Young men that are athletes can also succumb to the pressures of maintaining a strong and physically capable body.
The most common signs and symptoms of a person that may be a compulsive exerciser include: exercising continuously for several hours a day, using exercise to fill in down time or leisure time, continuing to exercise even when injured or sick, obsessing about their body and weight, adhering to a strict workout regimen every week without making exceptions, and feeling like people, work and school prevent them from exercising more. If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms or know someone else who is, it is important to seek help.
There are solutions to help people cope with compulsive exercise, however. Not all treatments work for everyone and are typically done on a case by case basis. Having friends and family serving as a support system is one of the easiest ways to begin gaining control of your obsession. Evaluate how often you exercise and work on lessening the frequency. If you find yourself exercising 3-4 times a day, try only exercising 1-2 times a day.
Don’t feel the need to rush your progress. Start spending more time with family and friends to occupy your thoughts and distract you from wanting to exercise. Instead of worrying about your weight, learn to eat healthier. Constantly tell yourself that it is okay to not exercise around the clock. With enough effort and the assistance of your doctor, if needed, you can effectively beat your compulsion.
For more extreme cases, hypnotherapy and neuro-linguistic programming, also known as NLP, can be used. These methods involve helping a person suffering from compulsive exercise control their thoughts and feelings in order to be fully conscious of the way they do things. By gaining greater control over their thoughts and actions, their compulsion can be corrected.