7 Signs to Know If You Are Getting Addicted to Exercise

“Exercise is good for you” is the universal message. But what is often less heard is that it is possible to overdo exercise. Being obsessed with their workout routine can take a toll on a person’s physical performance as well as their mental health. A study conducted in Italy in 2005 found that marathoners with an obsessive passion for the sport were more likely to be injured and stressed out compared to ones who took a more balanced approach towards exercise.

7 Signs to Know If You Are Getting Addicted to Exercise

Wondering how you can understand whether your relationship with exercise is healthy or not? We give you 7 Signs to Know If You Are Getting Addicted to Exercise and they are:

Jeopardizing Health for Workouts

When one wakes up feeling sick, injured or not 100% well, but still heads to the gym, it can indicate that something is wrong. People who are addicted to exercising do not rest when they clearly need to. When injured, these individuals sometimes just keep going and end up injuring themselves further. Over exercising can lead to exhaustion, overuse injuries, extreme weight loss, and even depression. A healthy approach to exercise involves listening to the body when sore muscles are calling for a day off or at least taking it a little easier. Otherwise, this stubborn commitment to the workout plan can backfire and lead to the person staying away from the gym for weeks as their body heals. Exercising if when you are feeling unwell is a sign that you have an unhealthy obsession with exercise.

Consistently Prioritizing Workouts Over Social Life

People getting addicted to exercising can compromise their social life just for hitting the gym. Exercise starts impacting their relationships since they tend to spend more time training than being with other people. However, it can be difficult for such people to realize that this is not right because there are many of ways in which they can rationalize their devotion to the gym. For instance, ones training for a race can see ditching weekend brunches with their friends as necessary and this is an important indication that such people are obsessed with exercise.

Using Exercise for Avoiding Serious Issues

For many people, runs or gym sessions are “me times.” Although working out is an effective and proven method of relieving stress, it is not a way to escape from the bigger issues of life. For people going through anxiety or depression, or switching their job, exercise can become an addiction as they are trying to cope with their life. Instead of addressing the core issue or seeking treatment, they depend on the feel-good neurotransmitters which are released while exercising. Though exercising to deal with personal issues is a good habit to have, it should not entirely replace treatment, medications, counselling etc. Don’t hesitate to seek help when you have to.

Tracking, Quantifying and Over Analyzing Everything

Pretty much everything from steps, sleep, food intake, water intake and workout can be tracked these days. However, the extreme devotion to fitness and health trackers becomes a bad thing if people get obsessed with attaining a specific weight or burning a certain number of calories every single day. When a person gets motivated by these numbers rather than the way exercise makes them feel, it can indicate that their exercise habit has turned into an unhealthy obsession or addiction. So, when finding themselves fixated on the number of steps they take each day or pushing harder and harder to beat the numbers from the previous week or month, people should know that it is time for them to re-evaluate their strategy. They should realise that there is lot more to exercise than just a number on the scale.

Getting Addicted To The Runner’s High

The phrase “runner’s high” is common for a reason. Many people say that exercise is their drug. This is because the hormonal response to exercise is reinforcing. It is just not limited to endorphins. A runner’s high produces chemicals like those present in marijuana. And while exercise addicts can start craving for that rush of happy feelings, they should know that they have gone overboard if they seek out that rush at the cost of everything else in their life.

Spending Too Much Time At The Gym

Frequent long gym sessions are fine, but if one finds themselves essentially living at the gym, it is time they step back and think. A person is recommended to practice 2 strength-training sessions and 1½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Although it is tough to exactly identify how much beyond this is too much, but stuffing the recommendation into each day or taking up multiple workout classes in a row is not advisable. A person is obsessed with exercise when they continue working out even when its advantages are outweighed by disadvantages like injury, exhaustion, etc. This is a signs to know if you are getting addicted to exercise.

Exercising Is Not Fun Anymore

In today’s times, a plethora of fitness classes are available. This makes it easier for people to find out the type of workout which they enjoy the most. However, one should understand that they are going to too many classes when these activities are not fun anymore. It is very important that people enjoy their exercise routine. When a person has stopped enjoying exercising, but yet finds themselves constantly at the gym, or enrolling for classes they dread, it means that they are obsessed with exercise.


The appropriate solution for exercise addiction depends on the severity of the problem and the underlying causes. For some people, it may be as simple as replacing their exercise behaviour with another activity which satisfies a need or brings balance in their life. So rather than beginning the day with a 2 hour treadmill workout, a person can benefit more from a social, lower-intensity activity, like walking with friends in the neighbourhood which gives time and space for socializing as well as exercising. However, this strategy may not prove helpful for someone who exercises excessively due to a distorted body image. It would rather be advisable for them to visit a clinical psychologist who specializes in eating disorders and exercise compulsion.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 1, 2018

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