Exercise Addiction Treatment and Help

Exercise addiction can lead an individual to exercise excessively, risking injury and reducing time for other activities; however, recovery is possible. Our counsellors are here to help you today.


Treating exercise addiction involves promoting balanced exercise habits and improving psychological well-being to form a healthier relationship with physical activity. Recognising the issue is challenging, especially without clear consequences. It’s vital to assess exercise’s impact on life and the potential costs. Feedback from loved ones is important for recognition and change. For severe cases, inpatient rehab or counselling provides a structured way to find balance, manage triggers and maintain recovery, laying the groundwork for lasting wellness.

How is Exercise Addiction Treated?

When assisting someone with exercise treatment, approach them empathetically, as denial can initially occur. It’s crucial to research and find suitable treatment services, including professional therapy. Admission into a therapy program requires an assessment and a personalised treatment plan. Ongoing therapy and aftercare are vital for long-term management and recovery from exercise issues. Offering support and guidance is key to helping individuals pursue a healthier lifestyle.

How is Exercise Addiction Diagnosed?

In mental health, diagnosing exercise treatment involves screening at-risk individuals and detailed assessments of exercise use, including medical and psychiatric evaluations to identify health impacts and mental disorders. Diagnostic criteria from DSM-5 or ICD-10 are used. The process assesses functioning, risk factors and readiness for change to develop a personalised treatment plan. Continuous monitoring and follow-up support are essential for effective management in exercise rehab.

Does My Partner/Loved One Have an Exercise Problem?

Exercise addiction can be challenging to identify in a loved one or family member but there are several signs that can help you recognise if they have an exercise problem. Look for excessive and uncontrollable exercise patterns, where they prioritise physical activity over important responsibilities or relationships. They might also display a significant amount of anxiety or distress when they are unable to exercise, indicating a potential dependence. Pay attention to changes in their physical appearance, particularly if they are losing weight rapidly or showing signs of overexertion or exhaustion. Additionally, individuals with exercise addiction often continue to exercise despite sustaining injuries or jeopardizing their well-being. If you notice these signs in a loved one, it is essential to approach the topic with care and support, encouraging them to seek professional help to address their exercise problem.

What To Do Next?

If you have a loved one or family member struggling with an exercise addiction or problem, it can be challenging for everyone involved. The strain on relationships can be significant, as the person’s focus and priorities may revolve solely around exercise, leaving little room for meaningful connection with others. Codependency can develop as family members may enable the individual’s behaviour, inadvertently contributing to the problem. Mixed toxic emotions often arise as loved ones may feel frustrated, worried or even resentful towards the person. Seeking help from a professional exercise counsellor is essential in navigating these complex dynamics and finding effective solutions. With their expertise, they can guide the family in creating healthy boundaries, addressing underlying issues and promoting a balanced approach to exercise.

Regular counselling sessions play a vital role in ongoing support and guidance during the recovery process. Exercise therapy encourages open communication for discussing challenges and finding solutions. Therapists work to uncover underlying factors contributing to exercise behaviour, such as social or professional stressors, promoting self-awareness and providing strategies for maintaining overall health in recovery.

Exercising regularly is one of the most important ways to live and maintain a healthy lifestyle but did you know that excessive exercise can actually be harmful? If you have a suspicion that you or someone you love could be addicted to exercise, look no further as help is at hand.


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There are various counselling methods that can be used which will put exercise addicts on the path to recovery. This counselling will help in educating the individual about their addiction and how to find a balance in their exercise schedules.

For more information regarding treatment, please call us now and our qualified addiction counsellor will gladly assist you with help in your area.

Rehabs in other cities of South Africa.

What is Exercise Addiction?

Also known as anorexia athletic or obligatory exercise, exercise addiction can be defined as an illness that forces individuals to train excessively. It’s important to note that there are distinct differences between enjoying exercising and being addicted to it. When an individual is addicted to exercise, it means that it has taken over their entire life and they are constantly preoccupied with it.

Research is being done to find out exactly how exercise addiction is caused, however it is believed that due to the release of endorphins (natural painkillers), it causes the individual to experience pleasure.

Addicts who exercise constantly will begin to have a higher tolerance threshold, meaning the individual will have to train longer and harder to achieve an effect that was once felt through less exercise.

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Signs and Symptoms of Exercise Addiction

When individuals are addicted to exercise, it is all they can think about and will be unable to complete or concentrate on activities at work or at home.

The individual will also skip work and other duties just to get their fix of exercise, which may hamper their personal relationships with family members, friends and work colleagues.

When the individual cannot exercise like with any other addiction will suffer withdrawal symptoms.

These withdrawal symptoms may range from anger and aggression, guilt and nervousness. The inability to train may also cause the individual to implement drastic diet changes and may restrict themselves from eating foods that are unhealthy or could make them gain weight.

Other symptoms of exercise addiction include a reduction in athletic performance as well as body aches and pains.

Long term exercise abuse may lead to more serious conditions such as liver and kidney damage, malnutrition and insomnia.

Exercise Addiction Treatment

If you linked the above symptoms with yourself or a loved one, the best way to recover is to seek professional help immediately.

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