Are you hell-bent on working out even when you’re out of sorts? If working is a compulsion that’s hard to set aside even during personal crises, this may signal an exercise addiction.

Don’t bother to read this if you are a couch potato, who believes exercise is a form of punishment. This article is meant only for you, if you refuse to let anything get between you and your workout. Like, if you’d rather skip a work deadline and ignore your fever, than give up your gym time.

Let’s face it, persistence is one thing, addiction is another. You need to know the difference.

How much exercise is enough?

We all need exercise, that’s for sure. But the big question is: how much do we really need? The answer depends upon your age, weight, fitness level, and lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults require around 2.5 hours of aerobic exercise per week.

This is about 30 minutes of active exercise a day. In addition to this, you need muscle-strengthening and stretching exercises twice a week.

When you over-do it

But if you work out double this amount, then stop for a moment. Do you structure your daily activities around an exercise routine? Do you push yourself to work out for too many number of hours? If you’ve answered yes, then you may be over-exercising.

Personality traits raise risk

An exercise junkie will not be put off by sickness, injury, or any health problem- even for a day! Exercise addicts exhibit traits like perfectionism, high-achieving personality, preoccupation with body image, fear of or obsession with weight gain, and low self-esteem.

Addicts feel that their routine demonstrates discipline, fortitude, sacrifice, and hard work. But the reality is that any obsession is harmful. Overdoing exercise can lead to health problems:  excessive weight loss, fatigue, irritability, under-nourishment, menstrual problems in women, frequent injuries and social isolation.

Common symptoms of exercise addiction

  • Feeling an uncontrollable urge to exercise and buzzed after finishing.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after long periods without exercise.
  • Giving up other important activities to exercise.
  • Spending long periods of time preparing for, and recovering from, exercise.

How to bring back the balance

  • Talk to a counsellor about your problem.
  • Remember that quality is as important than quantity when it comes to exercise.
  • Do not work out whenever you have free time.
  • Enjoy exercise rather than be obsessed with it.
  • Engage in a hobby or any other activity when you have spare time.
  • Involve a trainer to set up an appropriate weekly schedule.