When Exercise Becomes Too Much of a Good Thing

In a world where only 1 in 5 American adults meet the minimum daily exercise requirements, exercise addiction can seem like the opposite of a problem. Don’t let that fool you, says Marilyn Freimuth, a clinical psychologist at Fielding Graduate University, in Santa Barbara. “Exercise addiction can completely take over someone’s life. They’re getting injured, all they can do is think about exercising, but because our culture values physical activity,” she says, “we overlook the issue.”

In their 2015 book The Truth About Exercise Addiction: Understanding the Dark Side of Thinspiration, author Katherine Schreiber and Jacksonville University professor of kinesiology Heather Hausenblas write, “Exercise addicts experience physical activity as both a coping mechanism and a compulsion without which they feel they cannot survive.” People generally feel better both physically and mentally after working out. But for exercise addicts, that positive surge—similar to the ones gambling- and sex-addicts

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus6 min readHappiness
No, You Can’t Feel Sorry for Everyone: The idea of empathy for all ignores the limits of human psychology.
The world seems to be getting more empathetic. Americans donate to charity at record rates. People feel the pain of suffering in geographically distant countries brought to our attention by advances in communications and transportation. Violence, see
Nautilus6 min readScience
Outraged By the Google Diversity Memo? I Want You to Think About It
That leaked internal memo from James Damore at Google? The one that says one shouldn’t expect employees in all professions to reflect the demographics of the whole population? Well, that was a pretty dumb thing to write. But not because it’s wrong. D
Nautilus5 min read
The Argument Against Terraforming Mars
In Kim Stanley Robinson’s science-fiction Mars Trilogy, human colonists “terraform” Mars, turning the rocky red planet into a lush green world. The colonists melt the polar ice caps with nuclear explosives, inducing a greenhouse effect that warms the