Home > Eating Disorder Types > Compulsive Exercising

Compulsive Exercising

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 16 Aug 2014 | comments*Discuss
 
Eating Disorders anorexia bulimia

Compulsive exercising when associated with an eating disorder, can lead to serious physical injury and even death. Generally compulsive exercising is associated with either anorexia or bulimia non-purging type (where the exercising is the compensatory behaviour rather than purging by means of vomiting or the use of laxatives or diuretics), and it brings with it a number of physical risks. Two common signs that exercise has become compulsive include that an individual will exercise at any cost and that an individual will only eat if they can exercise. Athletes in particular are susceptible to compulsive exercising as a behaviour associated with eating disorders.

Physical Risks of Compulsive Exercising
Compulsive exercising, or exercising beyond the point at which these activities cease to be healthy and instead can become harmful, brings a host of physical risks. Dehydration, stress fractures in bones, the development of osteoporosis or brittle bones, arthritis, the loss of the menstrual cycle and associated reproductive problems, and risk to the heart muscles are all dangers that can accompany compulsive exercise. There may be warning signs before any of these serious problems, such as feeling weak or dizzy during exercising, blacking out or losing consciousness during exercising, or experiencing inappropriate shortness of breath during exercising. Anyone who encounters these warning signs should cease exercising immediately and consult a medical professional.

Exercising at Any Cost
One indication that exercising has become compulsive is that an individual will exercise at any cost. This includes exercising instead of joining in social activities, exercising rather than attending social events, exercising strictly while on holiday, skipping work or school in order to exercise or even locking oneself away to exercise (such as in a bathroom or home gym). Exercising in bed, such as by furiously pumping ones legs or arms, is another indication that the activity has ceased to be healthy. In general, when exercising begins to interfere with an individual’s balanced lifestyle it is likely that exercising has become compulsive.

Eating Only in Conjunction with Exercising
Another indication that exercising has become compulsive is that an individual will only eat if they have, or can, exercise. When this is the case, exercise is clearly being used as a means of controlling calories to the extent that the individual fears gaining weight without it. In addition to burning calories, individuals with eating disorders may also use exercising as a means of reducing feels of guilt or shame about having eaten, or in order to allow themselves or give themselves permission to eat again in the future.

Compulsive Exercising and Athletes
Many athletes, including dancers, runners, swimmers, wrestlers, skaters and gymnasts, fall prey to the idea that they must always be slimmer in order to perform better, particularly before an important competition. In order to lose weight, such athletes may literally punish their bodies with exercise in the desire to win. Unfortunately, such activities can lead to injury just as often as they will result in better outcomes, and they can even lead to death.

Compulsive exercising is a behaviour that is often linked to eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia non-purging type. This activity brings with it a number of physical risks, and even serious athletes can fall victim to this dangerous behaviour.

For further information on compulsive exercising and eating disorders, consult a medical or mental health professional or contact the Eating Disorders Association and/or National Centre for Eating Disorders.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
It means that in order to be not a victim of Anorexia Nervosa we must eat balanced food an exercise to burn fats into our bodies
Masway - 16-Aug-14 @ 11:01 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Kat
    Re: Eating by Texture
    To me I can't handle squishy foods and I don't like mixing my foods. One of my biggest problems is orange juice, and peaches in smoothies. When…
    13 December 2019
  • DarthPikachu
    Re: Why Does Eating Make Me Feel Sick?
    im a 29 year old woman who has difficulties eating food.. to clarify; i have always been a picky eater ever since early…
    12 December 2019
  • Shayanne
    Re: Why Does Eating Make Me Feel Sick?
    I am 23 years old female I have 3 children when I got pregnant with my 3 year old I could eat anything cooked one bite and…
    9 December 2019
  • Faith
    Re: Eating by Texture
    I apparently have issues because I can’t eat cruchy foods it’s so unsatisfying. Like toast, bacon, cruchy cereal. My cereal literally has to be…
    7 December 2019
  • SisterNeedsIron
    Re: Pica Disorder
    My sis has been eating non food substances for so long. When we tell my sister to stop she keeps on doing it
    28 November 2019
  • Wall
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I’m a 13 year old girl and I love to eat dry sans etc and mostly eating that weird sediment that comes from walls after the paint is chipped and it…
    21 November 2019
  • NintendHoe
    Re: Colour Coded Eating
    I only eat white foods. White powders, too. The color attracts me. I eat Borax, laundry powder, baking soda,
    19 November 2019
  • Joss
    Re: The Menstrual Cycle and Eating Disorders
    Hello I’m a 15 year old and in high school I got depressed becuase of my weight and how big I was over 200 lb and…
    17 November 2019
  • Bonnie
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I have been eating ICE ever since I know myself. From Iwas a teen. Now am 50 in December and the cravings is out of this world. Morning, noon, night,…
    11 November 2019
  • Jennifer
    Re: Eating by Texture
    I’m 29, 5’5, and only 105lbs. I have struggled with eating texture my whole life. Mushy foods are very hard for me. I gag trying to eat a banana…
    8 November 2019