VAIL CO, Colorado
We live in the Mecca of outdoor activity. We play a lot, and we wish we could play more. But can too much play-time be a bad thing? While obesity is an epidemic in the U.S., exercising for hours on end without ever taking a day off is a growing problem too, one that is normalized where we live and even celebrated at times. Exercise addiction is a real phenomenon and can be detrimental to an athlete’s health and well-being. I’m not advocating sitting on the couch, but I am encouraging balance, a word that many of us have lost touch with.
It’s difficult to separate healthy from obsessive, but this is precisely the work I do in identifying exercise addiction and the ways in which it can detract from athletic performance. Exercise dependence is a growing phenomenon within the field of psychology, yet some who exercise to extremes are hailed as disciplined and celebrated as successful athletes. And, any athlete can be considered an exercise addict, whether they train for a three-mile or 300-mile run.
To see how you rate take the questionnaire below. Rank each statement on a scale of 1 to 7 (one meaning ‘strongly disagree;’ 7 meaning ‘strongly agree’). If you score over 116, according to Bamber et al. (2003), you could suffer from exercise addiction (Exercise Dependence Questionnaire Ogden, Veale & Summers 1997).
1. My level of exercising makes me tired at work.
2. After an exercise session I feel happier about life.
3. If I cannot exercise I feel irritable.
4. The rest of my life has to fit in around my exercise.
5. After an exercise session I feel less anxious.
6. I exercise to look attractive.
7. I sometimes miss time at work to exercise.
8. After an exercise session I feel that I am a better person.
9. If I cannot exercise I feel agitated.
10. I exercise to meet other people.
11. I hate not being able to exercise.
12. I exercise to keep me occupied.
13. If I cannot exercise I feel I cannot cope with life.
14. I exercise to control my weight (I exercise to eat what I want).
15. I have little energy for my partner, family and friends.
16. Being thin (lean) is the most important thing in my life.
17. I feel guilty about the amount I exercise.
18. I exercise to be healthy.
19. After an exercise session I feel thinner.
20. My level of exercise has become a problem.
21. I make a decision to exercise/ (race) less but I cannot stick to it.
22. I exercise for the same amount of time each week (in and out of season).
23. After an exercise session I feel more positive about myself.
24. My weekly pattern of exercise is repetitive.
25. My pattern of exercise interferes with my social life.
26. I exercise to feel fit.
27. My exercising is running my life.
28.) I exercise to prevent heart disease and other illnesses.
29.) If I cannot exercise I miss the social life.
Abby Ruby has a doctorate degree in sports psychology from the University of Iowa. She is a practitioner at The Vitality Center at Vail Mountain Lodge, as well as a senior coach for Carmichael Training Systems, a USA Triathlon Level II Coach, a certified athletic trainer, a sport nutritionist, a certified yoga instructor and an author (”In Sickness and In Health: Exercise Addiction in Endurance Athletes”). Ruby offers group and one-on-one coaching options, including: nutrition counseling, optimal performance strategy, life coaching and sports psychology. Call 970-476-7721 for information.