Eating Recovery Center is featured in this DenverPost.com article on how compulsive exercise can be linked to eating disorders. Read an excerpt below, or to view the article in its entirety, click here.
Compulsive exercise more often linked to eating disorders
People joke that they are addicted to hot yoga, running or even boot camp. But medical professionals who specialize in eating disorders are more often diagnosing a real and acute illness called compulsive exercise.
One study found nearly 40 percent of patients with anorexia engaged in compulsive exercise behaviors, according to the Eating Recovery Center of Denver.
But how do you tell if an exercise addition is dangerous and unhealthy? A disorder isn’t defined by the number of minutes or hours someone exercises.
“It’s important to look at the intention behind the movement, if there is a sense of urgency or agitation when individuals can’t engage in the exercise behavior, there is likely an issue,” said Jennifer Lombardi, executive director of Summit Eating Disorders and Outreach Program, which works with Eating Recovery Center. “It’s also important to consider exercise in the larger context of an individual’s eating and body image history.”
Clinicians find that people with eating disorders sometimes compulsively exercise while they are suffering from the eating disorder, or in some cases, after their eating disorder has improved.
Some “abuse” exercise after an eating binge or to give themselves “permission” to eat, Lombardi said. And some begin to exercise with such frequency and volume as they are recovering from an eating disorder, it becomes an unhealthy part of recovery. The exercise — not the eating — becomes the new anxiety management tool.