Many Struggle with Eating and Exercise Disorders
Posted April 30, 2012
A healthier heart, greater bone density,
strength and muscle mass, decreased body fat and stress reduction
are just a few of the benefits of an exercise program. The key to
enjoying safe, long-lasting benefits and results, however, is to
recognize and understand the difference between training and
Although not widely publicized, a growing number of people
struggle with an obsessive and compulsive need to exercise. Those
with body-image illnesses are particularly preoccupied with the
notion that they do not "measure up." Within this mindset, diet
and exercise can be a means to fix a perceived flaw, rather than
for purposes of good health.
One body-image disorder that often goes hand in hand with
compulsive exercise is anorexia nervosa, which is characterized by
a preoccupation with weight, size and dieting.
According to the Mayo Clinic, anorexia nervosa is an eating
disorder that causes people to obsess about their weight and the
food they eat. People with anorexia nervosa attempt to maintain a
weight that's far below normal for their age and height. To prevent
weight gain or to continue losing weight, people with anorexia
nervosa may starve themselves or exercise excessively.
Often suffering with low self-esteem, compulsive exercise and
food restriction may be used as a form of self-punishment for
eating too many calories, not performing well on a test or at work,
annoying a friend or family member, etc. Obsessive workout sessions
are usually extremely long in duration and/or high in intensity,
and often contain a ritualistic aspect .
Symptoms of anorexia nervosa and compulsive exercise may include
fear of body fat and gaining weight, misperception of self (not
seeing themselves as they really are), desire to become thinner and
thinner, and in females, loss of menstrual periods.
Other warning signs include working out with injuries or when
sick, extreme worry or mood swings if sessions are missed, and the
need to work out more than once a day or for many hours per day.
Those with compulsive exercise disorders become anxious and feel
extreme guilt when they are unable to work out, and rarely find it
fun or enjoyable.
Treatment of obsessive-compulsive exercise and other body-image
disorders is extremely important. Without intervention, health and
physical safety, emotional well-being and many other areas of life
are affected considerably.
Obsessive-compulsive illness affects both men and women, and it
should be noted that body weight alone is not always a marker of
the condition. Spotting such clues usually comes from someone close
to the person. This may be a family member, friend, teacher, coach
or anyone else familiar with warning signs.
Marjie Gilliam is a certified personal trainer and fitness
consultant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. This article appeared
in the Dayton Daily News.
c.2011 Cox Newspapers