Exercise and Fitness Guide

7 Signs You May Be Addicted to Exercise

Jackie Ho Aug 15th, 2014 (updated Jun 9th, 2015)
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We all know how important exercise is to having good health, but like anything, too much of a good thing can sometimes end up doing more harm than good. In fact, some people may actually become addicted to exercise, according to recent research. Exercise addiction is not yet an official medical diagnosis, but it is a problem that affects about 3 percent of Americans. Here are the seven key signs that you may be addicted to exercise.

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Increased tolerance
Increased tolerance

Some people become addicted to the positive feeling that occurs when the body releases endorphins during physical activity. However, the body adapts over time and it becomes increasingly difficult to achieve the same feeling. People who are addicted to exercise increase the amount of time spent and intensity of their workouts until they achieve the desired feeling.

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Withdrawal
Withdrawal

It’s natural to feel a little “off” if you typically follow a regular workout regimen and have to miss a few days or a week. However, if you’re addicted to exercise you may experience more serious withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, depression or insomnia. These symptoms are signs that your body has become dependent on a certain level of exercise in order to feel normal.

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You sacrifice important obligations
You sacrifice important obligations

Do you find yourself cancelling appointments and obligations in order to devote more time to exercise? One sign of exercise addiction is the willingness to sacrifice important obligations, whether it be work duties, social or family events or others. Exercise addiction may be even more serious if you find yourself lying about where you’re going when you’re going to exercise.

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Loss of control
Loss of control

People who are addicted to exercise may be aware of their unhealthy behavior but find it difficult to control. Despite negative effects on personal and/or professional life and the growing time commitment, a person may feel like he or she does not have any control over fulfilling the desire for physical activity. Trying to reduce exercising and failing to do so can also signify a lack of control.

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Nothing can stop you
Nothing can stop you

Exercising can often make you feel better about yourself and lift your mood. But it is also important to listen to your body and get sufficient rest. If you refuse to skip a workout even when you’re exhausted, sick or injured, it could be a sign that you’ve developed an addiction.

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Intention effects
Intention effects

Intention effects mean that you consistently exercise for a longer period of time than you originally intended to. This could range from adding more reps or sets to your strength-training routine to deciding to run for an hour after your hot yoga class. Constantly pushing yourself beyond your physical limits can end up doing more harm than good.

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You’ve developed more problems through exercise
You’ve developed more problems through exercise

While exercising can have a multitude of health benefits, exercising too much can lead to the following negative effects: fatigue, loss of motivation, decreased focus and concentration, increased resting heart rate, soreness and stiffness in the joints. Failing to rest despite these signs can be a sign of addiction.