With a focus on the supposed obesity epidemic, it seems rare to get a word in about those who are overly fit or underweight. However, there is still some part of the population that is perhaps a bit too enthusiastic about dropping those pounds by hitting the gym multiple times during the week.
When watching Psych Week at the end of April, under one episode of “Strange Addictions,” I watched a man who devoted his life to running, and it ended up ruining his relationship with his girlfriend and possibly his health.
Although it’s not an official diagnosis, exercise addiction (and addiction to anything in general) is real. It is loosely defined by obsession with exercise, where everything else is second, even including overall well-being of the addict. Family, friends and work can be pushed aside to the detriment of the addict. The person with exercise addiction may even sustain physical injuries along the way.
Some say an increase in the feel-good endorphins contributes to the desire to work out excessively, but not everyone feels the need to hurt their bodies and lives. Therefore, it might be due to underlying psychological problems, like depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, according to www.womenfitness.net.
Exercise addiction could, in some cases, be fueled by eating disorders, depending on the motivation, symptoms and psychological process behind the actions. Anorexia nervosa tends to be linked to excessive exercise and dieting, as well as fear of obesity. There are 10 million females in the United States who have eating disorders, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
There are plenty of resources and books devoted to eating disorders, but there weren’t many devoted specifically to exercise addiction. However, I found “Diary of an Exercise Addict,” by Peach Friedman, which focuses on the “exercise bulimia” the author had.