Obviously, there are many health benefits to working out regularly. It’s good for our cardiovascular system, can relieve stress, and it releases feel good chemicals like endorphins. But just like anything, it’s best in moderation, and when exercise is done excessively, it can come with some dangerous health complications of its own.
So let’s jump into what exercise addiction is: simply put, it’s an unhealthy obsession with physical fitness and working out and we feel helpless to stop even if we know it’s not good for us or is out of control. It’s that second portion, the part about not being able to stop, that differentiates this from professional athletes, olympians, and marathon runners. Sure those people could have exercise addiction, but it’s not just the amount of exercise we do that’s an indicator of this, it’s much more than that.
If we think about it, we can imagine a lot of reasons why someone would become addicted to exercise: it’s a distraction, it makes us feel good, and it’s something our society supports. And it’s not a big jump from that for us to understand why those of us with eating disorders can struggle with it as well. Since eating disorders are coping skills, and exercise can reduce stress and make us feel good. Not to mention that it still feeds into that ED voice by giving us a false sense of control and makes us think that we are achieving something worthwhile.