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Compulsive Exercise: Physical Activity Beyond Needs

Physical exercise positively affects mental and physical health. While reducing depression and anxiety, exercise increases the energy levels of individuals and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. However, some individuals cannot benefit from these benefits by making physical activity compulsive. At the same time, compulsive exercise is a common symptom of various eating disorders (Bulimia and Anorexia Nervosa).

What is Compulsive Exercise?

The American National Eating Disorder Association defined compulsive exercise as one or more of the following:

  • Having medical complications that significantly interfere with essential activities, occur at inappropriate times or in unsuitable environments, or when a person continues to exercise despite injury or something else
  • Feeling intense anxiety, depression, and distress when not exercising
  • The emergence of a feeling of discomfort due to inactivity
  • Using exercise to manage emotions
  • Using exercise as a purification tool
  • Using exercise as an eating permit
  • Doing hidden exercise
  • You are not good enough, fast enough, or challenged during an exercise period.

Compulsive Exercise and Body Image

Physical exercise is done for a healthy life and for reasons related to appearance. The risk of compulsive exercise is relatively high among those who exercise for weight and appearance.

Physical exercise has been associated with dissatisfaction with their bodies and low self-esteem and body esteem.

83% of women in the United States reported being dissatisfied with their bodies, and body dissatisfaction was said to be associated with eating disorders and excessive exercise.

How to Cope?

  • Stopping using exercise as a method of reward or punishment
  • Creating an exercise routine, you love
  • Remember that rest is just as important as exercising when you feel guilty about not exercising.
  • You are reminding yourself that you do exercise for health rather than appearance.
  • Acting by listening to the body and meeting its needs, as in eating
  • If it cannot be done alone, seek help from an expert.