Compulsive Over Exercising
What is compulsive exercising?
Compulsive exercising, also called over-exercising or
obligatory exercising, is when an individual engages
in strenuous physical activity with to the point that
is unsafe and unhealthy.
How much exercise is considered too much?
To maintain cardiovascular health, 2,000-3,500
calories should be burned each week through aerobic
exercises, such as running, dancing, cycling and the
like. Thirty to forty-five minutes a day, five or six
days a week is sufficient to acquire these health
benefits. Exercise beyond 3,500 calories per week,
however, leads to decreased physical benefits and
increased risk of injury. This can also lead to
something called muscle dysmorphia, a condition in which
a sufferer engages in compulsive weight-bearing
What motivates sufferers to exercise too much?
Those who compulsively exercise often work out to
attain a temporary sense of power and self-control.
Some over-exercisers are also anorexic or bulimic, and
cope with their emotions and anxiety through excessive
exercise in addition to their eating disorder.
Participation in athletics or dance can also play a
role, as coaches, parents, and other participants
stress that being thin is necessary to succeed with
the activity. Those involved in sports or dance may
also receive a great deal of praise for being so "fit
and trim" which can fuel the destructive behavior.
What are the signs and symptoms of compulsive exercising?
Over-exercisers typically work out beyond the limits
of safe. They will find ways to work out even if it
means cutting school, taking time off from work,
getting too little sleep, or missing social events.
Sufferers typically feel severe guilt when they cannot
exercise, and rarely consider their workouts fun or
What are some consequences of compulsive exercise?
The risks with this disorder are both physical and
emotional. All too often, a sufferer may see
deterioration of their personal relationships or
failure at work or school. Many who exercise
compulsively become socially withdrawn.
The physical risks are numerous. A very real risk with
this disorder is dehydration if the sufferer is not
drinking enough fluids. Over-exercise can also lead to
insomnia, depression, and fatigue. Additional physical
side effects include muscular and skeletal injuries,
like shin splits, bone fractures, arthritis, or damage
to cartilage and ligaments. Too much exercise can lead
to the release of excessive free radicals, which have
been linked to cellular mutations and cancer. Females
may no longer menstruate, a condition called
Can a person who compulsively over-exercises become cured?
About 80% of persons with body image disorders who
seek professional help recover completely or make
significant progress. All in all, these disorders are
behavior patterns that display very complex emotional
conflicts, which need to be resolved for the person to
have a healthy relationship with food and exercise.