Compulsive Exercise


         Compulsive exercise is similar to any other addiction.  It is when the individual experiences exercise as an essential need and compulsion.  In addition, exercise becomes a must, instead of a choice.


Do  You or a Loved One Have Any of These Warning Signs? If so, we encourage you to seek help.

Ongoing preoccupation with exercise routine and schedule, which intercedes with one’s everyday life.

Daily schedule is managed around one’s exercise plan.

One plans time to exercise at the cost of anything.  For example, one may sacrifice sleep, social events, school in order to exercise.

One experiences anger, anxiety, or guilt if unable to exercise.

It is not an option to alter or interrupt exercise routine.

The primary drive is to control weight, shape, and/or body composition.

Food choices are based on exercise. For example, one may exercise as punishment for eating “bad” foods, or to cancel out calories.

One may exercise alone in order to avoid their routine being disturbed.

Dishonesty about exercise.

Exercise routine may not be disturbed regardless of circumstances such as, bad weather or unsafe surroundings.

Exercise continues regardless of injury and sickness.

For competitive athletes, exercise may be done secretively, fanatically, and above the requirements.

Self-worth is related to exercise routine.  For example, how much and/or how rigorously the routine is completed.

For females: exercise induced amenorrhea and/or stress fractures.



Eberle G., Suzanne, MS, RD, How Much Exercise is Too Much? (2004). National Eating Disorders Association.


Kokora, Pat, RD. Compulsive Exercise and Eating Disorders. Eating Disorder Center of Denver.