While getting your sweat on is definitely part of a healthy lifestyle, getting hooked on an intense routine could signal an unhealthy exercise addiction, says exercise psychologist Heather Hausenblas, Ph.D., co-author of The Truth About Exercise Addiction: Understanding the Dark Side of Thinspiration. With so many rave-worthy fitness classes out there, it’s easy to get sucked into a cycle of intense exercise. (Think: SoulCycle for breakfast and Flywheel for happy hour.)
“People tend to applaud and praise people who exercise a lot, and say, ‘I wish I had your addiction,’” says Hausenblas. “But like anything, if someone is addicted to exercise it’s all-consuming. They’re thinking about it all the time, they’re exercising for an extreme amount of time, and experience negative mood states when they can’t exercise.”
Sound anything like you? If you answer yes to any of these five questions, you may want to speak with a professional.
1. Does skipping a workout ruin your day?
It’s one thing to be a little bummed that you had to skip your usual barre class. But feeling actual withdrawal symptoms is a sign of addiction, says Hausenblas. For example, while most people would just say they’ll go to the gym tomorrow, someone who has an exercise addiction will feel extremely agitated.
“Typically when you exercise, it puts you in a better mood. You feel better, have more energy, and are less stressed,” she says. “What happens with somebody who’s exercise addicted is they’re exercising to alleviate these negative mood states. When they can’t exercise, it causes a negative mood, anxiety, stress, depression, a hard time focusing.”
2. Are all of your friends fitness buffs?
When you’re addicted to exercise, everything begins to revolve around it, says Hausenblas. This includes what you talk about—and who you hang out with. As your addiction to fitness grows, your group of friends may become narrower, she explains. While you may have previously hung out with friends who talked about music, movies, or sports, eventually you may find yourself hanging only with people you exercise with or who are are supportive of your excessive routine.
3. Are you afraid of gaining weight?
In the field of exercise addiction research, experts differentiate betweenRolex Replica
primary exercise addiction, where the addiction is exercise in and of itself, and secondary exercise addiction, where an individual engages in excessive exercise that’s secondary to an eating disorder or body image issue, Hausenblas says. If the main motivation behind your workouts is to control or change your weight, this is a red flag that you might be at risk for secondary exercise addiction.
4. Are you exercising through an injury?
Overuse injuries are super common in people participating in excessive exercise, says Hausenblas. But unlike the average fitness enthusiast who gets an injury but gives their body time to heal, exercise addicts push through it.
“One of the telltale signs in someone who is exercise addicted is they get an injury and their doctor says to take a month or two off and they can’t,” says Hausenblas. “Individuals say they either exercise through the pain or switch activities.”
5. Do you plan your life around working out?
There’s nothing wrong with making a point to schedule a workout into your busy day. But if you’re planning your vacations around fitness, reducing the amount of hours you’re working, skipping meetings, taking longer lunch breaks, or you’ve purposely switched to a career that allows you to get in multiple exercise sessions in a day, you may be addicted.
“If you take a look at the physical activity guidelines, we don’t need to exercise that much for health-related reasons. Exercising more than 30 minutes a day isn’t going to give you huge, incredible health benefits,” says Hausenblas. “It’s about healthy balance. When someone is spending so much of their day trying to schedule the exercise in, or working out multiple times a day, you have to ask, ‘What’s the motivation?’”