Longevity Exercise Physiology Drummoyne,EdgecliffMarrickville,Bella Vista, Randwick, Lindfield and Balmain discuss the implications of exercise addiction and overtraining.

This weeks blog post is inspired by a podcast that I recorded with clinical Nutritionist Anthony Hartcher surrounding the implications of exercise addiction and overtraining, and some tips for how to recognise that you may be at risk!

So to start- what is exercise addiction?  The clinical definition of exercise addiction refers to an unhealthy obsession with exercise and or physical fitness and often can lead to an increase in injuries,  impact potential positive training outcomes and can often have detrimental social impacts. Exercise addiction is common among athletes, but is becoming increasingly common in the general population. So, why does this occur? An addiction to exercise can be sparked by a number of different reasons but I’ve decided to outline the 3 most common reasons, and a few strategies of how to manage them:

1.       An addiction to the “happy” hormones released as a result of exercise: Dopamine and endorphins released during exercise that leave you feeling happy and accomplished after a workout can often cause people that use them as a coping mechanism for stress and anxiety at risk of over training and exercise addiction. Learning to balance exercise with other mediative and coping techniques in conjunction with a healthy exercise program can help to reduce the risk of  common overtraining downsides such as burn out and injury.

2.       An obsession with physical appearance: An obsession with your physical appearance, commonly seen in athletes that have competed in sports that place value on weight or aesthetic appearance such as gymnastics, dancing and boxing can often result in becoming addicted to exercising in order to reach a goal associated  with a certain weight or body type. In sports that promote a low body fat to muscle ratio as an advantage this obsession with increasing calorie expenditure is where burn out, eating disorders and unhealthy relationships with food can develop.  Ensuring that the healthy amount of calories for your body composition and energy expenditure levels are being consumed daily is a helpful way to manage the negative side effects that can be associated with increased exercise loads.

3.       Addiction to success associated with exercise and training: The common misconception with training is that, a higher volume of training = better results. This concept, when applied often leads to burnout, overuse injuries and a decrease in potential training improvements due to lack of recovery. With a “go hard or go home” training mentality, people often ignore the signs that their body is in need of rest. This is often represented by: fatigue, changes in mood, disrupted sleep and an increase in injuries or “niggles”. By listening to your body, and allowing adequate rest times between sessions you’re actually in fact allowing damaged tissue to repair, and decreasing the flow on affect of this impacting your next session. So simply, allowing recovery = better quality training sessions!


For more information about my own personal experience with exercise addiction, and how I managed it as an athlete- go and check out my podcast with Anthony Hartcher here: Exercise Addiction – Good or Bad? and if you have any questions or want to learn how to better manage your training, do not hesitate to contact me at stephanie@longevitypt.com.au.

Call Longevity, 1300 964 002, for individualised exercise advice.

Written By Steph Keily