When Does Exercise Move From Routine to Compulsive?

Though exercise promises many benefits, overtraining can result in harmful consequences both physically and mentally. Compulsive exercise is defined as an excessive and uncontrollable need to exercise. Oftentimes, those who exercise compulsively do so despite injury, illness, or at inappropriate times. Exercise addiction is underdiagnosed and unfortunately reinforced as “healthy.” However, if exercise is not approached with care, it can lead to serious harm to your body, your relationships, and your mental health. 

There is no specific criteria for a diagnosis of exercise addiction, so counselors use questionnaires, such as the Exercise Addiction Inventory, which address how long and how often you exercise, if your workouts create conflict in your personal life, and your moods and behaviors surrounding exercise. 

In the absence of exercise, some folks may experience a deep sense of guilt and anxiety and have trouble focusing for the rest of the day. 

If this sounds like something you experience, here are a few questions to ask yourself before exercising: 

  1. If I exercise, will I still have adequate time for… (Fill in the blank with your top 3 values) If the answer is no, this may be a sign that exercise holds higher importance in your life than certain relationships and responsibilities. 
  2. What am I thinking about myself right now? If the answer is something like, “I ate too much” or “I am disgusting,” your time may be better spent exercising your “self-compassion muscle.” 
  3. How would I feel if I chose to rest instead? If this thought produces fear about breaking your rigid schedule, be curious about this fear and consider what your body might be asking for instead. 

Therapy provides a space to explore your relationship with exercise whether you would like to learn about ways to use movement in more beneficial ways or if you’re hoping to break free from the control exercise may have over you. 

Learn more about our approach to Nutrition, Health and Wellness at Lifeologie Counseling Dallas or request an appointment with me to get started on your journey to better health.

About Lifeologie

Lifeologie Counseling was founded in 2000 with one goal in mind — to bring a fresh, innovative approach to the everyday problems of life. Creative solutions to stuck problems®. With our unique multi-specialty, collaborative approach, Lifeologie Counseling helps individuals and families heal their wounds and break out of old, unhealthy patterns.