Learn how health and fitness addiction compares with the more common
ones, how to tell you’re an addict and how to recover.
Yes…it’s possible! The word “addiction” give us images
of people in dark rooms, listening to bad music and sticking needles in
their arms, but many addicts can be found in the gym or on the local school
track, getting just as addictive a fix. In fact, the positive nature
of the word “healthy” makes health and fitness addiction all the more
alluring. Despite the positive media, health addicts have done as much
damage to their families and lives as any other kind of addict. In
this article, we’ll look under the surface of health and fitness addiction
and find a path to recovery.
How Can Something So Good Be Bad? In our modern Western culture,
those willing to pay the price for fitness are to be applauded. There
are just so many temptations to do otherwise. Exercise is mostly
boring, painful and smelly, so those who endure it for about an hour, 3-5
days a week, have achieved a level of discipline most only dream of.
Health and fitness addiction is not about health or fitness…it’s about
a compulsion to use healthy activities to fill a void we see in ourselves.
Addicts are compelled, not disciplined. The addictive chemicals
involved in exercise are much the same as those in sex and porn addiction.
This may explain why many people suffer from both sexual addictions and
Types Of Health And Fitness Addiction: These are addictions to the
activities of health and fitness, as opposed to the TV, Internet and
shopping addictions which could involve health themes. Health and
fitness addictions are compulsions to engage in “healthy” activities, like
exercise, dieting, etc. In fact, anorexia and bulimia nervosa have
both been described as severe health and fitness addictions. Two key
symptoms of these mental disorders are exercise and dietary control to a
compulsive and excessive extreme. The specific exercise or diet plan
doesn’t matter. It’s an addiction when you feel compelled to do it.
How Do I Know I’m Addicted? We addicts don’t often recognize
addiction because a common symptom of addiction is denial, which is even
easier to have about health. That’s why it’s easier to find out from a
friend or loved one if you have a problem in this area. For health
addiction involving eating, see
Signs of Anorexia Nervosa Quiz. Here are some things to
watch out for concerning fitness exercise addiction:
1. Do you regularly spend more than 8 hours a week exercising and
is the time you spend increasing?
2. Does your exercise schedule interfere with normal family
activities, home or work responsibilities?
3. Do friends or family members complain about the time or money you
spend on fitness?
4. Have you wondered if you’re being too compulsive about your fitness
5. Have you lied to your family, friends, or employers about the time
you spend in fitness activities?
6. Do you often see fitness as a way to gain acceptance or praise from
7. Have you ever pushed so hard in your fitness program you hurt
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should consider
yourself at risk of addiction. If you answered yes to 3 or more,
you’re probably addicted.
How Do I Recover From Health And Fitness Addiction? This is caused
by a negative self-image, like any other addiction. Instead of
alcohol, you use exercise to fill a void you feel in yourself. Since
the relief produced by exercise is only temporary and you become
conditioned, you need regular increases in the activity to produce the same
relief. Unlike alcohol, a certain amount of fitness activity is
required for health, so, you can’t just quit. Instead, we have to hold
ourselves to no more than an hour a day, 3-5 days a week.
Spend the rest of the time you used to exercise going to AA or other
addiction meetings and engaging in self-development activities. You
could read, go back to school, join a volunteer group. You could take
up a hobby, like gardening or building model airplanes. To help in
building yourself up, avoid negative mental inputs, like the news, drama,
negative, insulting friends. Replace those with good music or
reading or other activities that build you up. Push all the negative,
self-defeating, limiting thoughts out of your mind with positive, uplifting,
Because there are risks that health and fitness addiction could develop
into full-blown anorexia, if you try and fail to get a handle on your
addiction, please see a doctor. Sometimes medical and psychological
therapy can prevent a more serious condition from developing, and allow you
the mental energies you need to get control of yourself.
Health and fitness addiction can be just as severe as any other
addiction. It can imprison us into destructive, compulsive activities.
We can place our families, our careers, even, ironically, our health at risk
through addiction to exercise and other fitness activities. The good
news is, there is hope for anyone willing to live in and work on recovery.
What makes AA successful is available, no matter what your addiction.
The 12 steps were based on belief in a higher power than ourselves (God) who
would help us recover. He can heal
you and help you continue in recovery. If you want His help, go to