When Fitness Becomes Unhealthy

man exercising in the gym

Getting and keeping fit is really important for everyone. We have spoken a lot of times on this website about the benefits of keeping fit and healthy. However, there are some drawbacks if taken too far.

It all depends on the individual, really. Some people are obsessed with perfection and winning at all costs

This is not surprising since we are all animals, right? In life, it’s all about survival of the fittest. Being competitive is in our DNA, whether we like it or not.

The only problem is it’s harder to control for some people.

If we are honest, fitness obsession is usually driven by another obsession. This is usually some form of subtle eating disorder where the person is attempting to control their weight or trying to achieve a certain body shape or size.

Extreme Training

Whenever someone has that fitness obsession, they usually turn to more extreme training methods. This helps them expend a lot more calories and lose bodyweight a lot faster (depending on their diet that is). 

Their excuse is comparing their behavior to professional athletes and thinking that you can never work or train too hard to achieve their desired results. 

The only thing that will stop them from such extreme training would be either severe pain or injury. 

Unfortunately, this is an example of going way too far by taking things to the extreme. Extreme training until you get an injury is not the right way to train. This is no longer a pastime but an addiction.

Overtraining Syndrome

Of course, overtraining is nothing new. It's just we have more access to a lot more data now. People have been overtraining and getting injuries for years. 

The reason why we never heard about it is down to the fact people used to suffer in silence. If they got an injury, they would still train, no matter what the short term or long term damage.

The fear of putting on weight or getting out of shape was enough to drive them on. 

Compulsive Exercisers Similar to Drug Addicts


It might seem a little odd that I am comparing compulsive exercisers to drug addicts. However, there a quite a few similarities. 

A lot of these people don’t enjoy exercising anymore but feel the need to, and it is no longer a choice. Since they are addicted, they can’t help themselves.

If you have ever exercised and felt that euphoria, then you will know that this feeling is temporary. 

Many people will force their workout schedule and reps so that they can continue to feel this euphoria. 

If they don’t, then they feel a massive dose of guilt and anxiety. An observant person would liken this to withdrawal symptoms a drug addict feels. Couple this with a sudden increase in endorphins, and this natural drug serves the same purpose as morphine does to a drug addict. 

This is the reason why they are so easy to compare. The similarities are endless. 

You often find that professional athletes suffer from severe bouts of depression as they get withdrawal symptoms.

Warning Signs of a Compulsive Exerciser

  • You don’t exercise for fun anymore.
  • You suffer extreme stress and anxiety if you miss a training session.
  • You feel the need to train as hard and as fast as you can
  • You miss family occasions because you feel the need to train.
  • You calculate how much you should train based on how much you eat.
  • You would rather exercise than socialise with your friends.
  • You find it hard to rest or relax because you aren’t burning calories.
  • You constantly worry about putting on weight if you don’t train.


I know that I have gone to the extreme in this article. Some may even feel I’ve gone a little too far by comparing people who exercise excessively to drug addicts. However, I think the two need to be controlled and proper care taken with their health.

Unfortunately, if you have any of these symptoms and you don’t get it under control, then you risk serious health dangers in the future. Like malnutrition, kidney failure, heart attacks, and dare I say it, death.

If you do suffer from any of the symptoms I have listed, it is recommended that you seek help from a professional. This can be in the form of a personal trainer or doctor. 

Also, if you know anyone that is suffering from the same symptoms, try to persuade them to do the same. It’s only by sharing concerns, getting professional help, and talking that we will start to try to wean ourselves off compulsive exercising.

Previous article What Fitness Goals Should I Set?

Leave a comment

Comments must be approved before appearing

* Required fields