Exercise addiction – my story & advice

If you love exercising it often requires more willpower to not exercise than it does to go workout.  Many would find this hard to believe. But just like with anything, if you love it you want to do more of it/have more of it… example if you find a new series you want to watch you might spend a whole day/week watching the series, for those who love exercise they want to do it as often as they can.

The important thing though is to find a balance with exercise. Because exercise is good and something everyone should be doing (of course, individual situations such as when you are sick, injured or in recovery then exercise would just do more harm than good. And in those types of situations exercise is not recommended.), but too much exercise might just lead to negative consequences such as lower immune system so you get colds more often, you can injure yourself if you don’t recover and get enough rest. But also exercise is a stressor, it stresses your muscles, nerves and your brain so if you are constantly exercising without giving your muscles and brain a time to rest you can go into “overdrive” and burnout with problems such as restless legs, insomnia, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite/eating too much, extreme fatigue etc


In the past i suffered from exercise addiction. Some say that is not a real thing, but for me it was very real. I would purposely set my alarm for 5 or 6am in the morning, get up and stand/move and then for the rest of the day i would be standing, moving, walking, running, exercising until around 11pm or 12am when i would finally allow myself to lie down in my bed, and even then i would begin shaking my legs and moving, anything to not be still. I was terrified of being still, terrified of sitting. I genuinely thought that if i sat down i would gain weight and balloon up. I have had many arguments with my family as they couldn’t get me to sit down, i refused to travel or sit in the car longer than 30 minutes so would refuse to go anywhere that was longer than 30 minutes drive away. I refused to go to the cinema as it would mean sitting for 90-120 minutes, i never sat on public transport and not even when extremely tired would i rest. It was a compulsion, obsession and my exercise was done out of fear, anxiety and guilt, it was not something i liked doing but something i thought i had to do. Those years of compulsive exercise have lead to me having injuries in present time, both in my hip, knees and back as i used to stand in weird places to not get seen as well as hunching over alot as my back muscles couldn’t keep me straight, but also i did alot of walking and running in the wrong form of shoes which is something i deeply regret as i can get alot of pain in my knees and hips now a days from that.

Eventually with the help of treatment and my family i learnt that sitting and resting was ok and i began to get better at resting. But then i began working out again and due to school related anxiety and stress i began to abuse exercise again and it wasnt something i did consciously… it just happened. It went from 30 minutes running to eventually doing 1,5-2 hours of cardio everyday as i thought that was the only thing that counted as exercise. Eventually from 2013 when i began to strength train i have worked on that golden balance with exercise. Trying to find what works for me and what i have now realised is that balance varies over time…. sometimes in my life going to the gym 6 times a week is balance that works, other times 3-4 times a week is balance as i have other more important things in my life. Sometimes balance with exercise is just leaving the house, going out for a walk and other times it is running and doing crossfit style workouts. It all depends on my life situation. But also remembering to always listen to my body… to do what i enjoy and what I want to do. It is easy to scroll through social media and see all these people doing tough workouts and working out daily and forget to realise that that is presumably their job… to film their workouts, share their workouts and just be an online workout inspiration. Whereas i have school, school assignments and other things in my life that take up my time. But also everyone is different, i have injuries that prevent me from doing squats or heavy deadlifts, but i can do other forms of exercise instead i don’t need to squat just because it seems like everyone else is doing squats.

Finding balance with exercise is hard and it takes time. It is all about listening to your body asking yourself if you really want to exercise. And if you do, what form of exercise… maybe it is just yoga, maybe it is running, maybe it is HIIT, maybe it is stretch or swimming… it can vary. You DONT have to go to the gym or have a really tough sweat session to call it a workout.


What saddens me is to see people who are in the same situation i was a few years ago. To see people who never seem to rest, always at the gym, always tired, always working out…. i just want to reach out to them and tell them that it is ok to rest, it is ok to skip a workout. Nothing bad will happen if you don’t workout for a few days or a week or two. Your muscles won’t break down and disappear, you won’t suddenly gain 5kg fat, and yes… you can still eat even if you don’t workout.

Many don’t see overexercising as a problem because one of the biggest problems in society is that people DON’T exercise enough. Now  a days people are far too still, they sit almost 24/7 and eat too much processed food, and that is an epidemic with many health problems. And it is only a small percent of people who are overexercising, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem that needs help. What i have also noticed is that all the health recommendation and all the news about needing to walk 10 000 steps a day, get up every 60 minutes, move, walk, sit less…. all of that information is being followed by the people who already workout… by the people who are already active and suddenly they are trying to fit in more steps, more workouts and more movement into their already active lifestyle, while those who actually need to follow the advice don’t. It’s tough when there are 2 such extremes and both are problematic.

In the future i want to help both those who over exercise and need to learn to rest as well as those who don’t move at all and need to find a sport they enjoy doing and get more active!

If you are struggling with overexercising or want to know more about my story, below are some links to previous posts which you can read.

How i stopped overexercising (written in 2012, so i have made alot of changes and different mindset since then!)

Masterpost of exercising and exercising in recovery. How to find balance with exercise.

The importance of rest and my exercise addiction

Resting doesn’t mean you are fat or lazy – answer

Links about over exercising


If you need any advice you can always comment below and i can try my best to help 🙂


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Rachel Carter says:

    Thank you so much for this post! It’s always good to have a reminder to rest sometimes 🙂


    1. I’m glad you liked it/found it useful 🙂 I plan to write a post about why it’s beneficial to take rest days as well!


  2. Laura says:

    Hey, I am also suffering from excercise addiction, but previously my doctor forbid me to go to the gym. At first it was really hard and I did excercise secretly. Now I still cannot sit for a long time but I don’t excercise anymore. I just do yoga and go for walks. I’d like to start working out again but I am scared that it will become a compulsion again and I am still pretty underweight…What do you think? Should I wait a bit more or can I already start excercising again?


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