Exercise: Why One Size Doesn’t Fit All


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – In a recent episode of the Dr. Drew podcast, one of Drew’s callers brings up an issue regarding her co-workers exercising too much. Yes you read that right, but let me repeat that last phrase. The issue she has with her co-workers, is exercising too much. 

How is this a problem, one might wonder?

According to Dr. Drew, these women in question suffer from what is known as exercise bulimia, which simply stated is a “psychological disorder called bulimia in which a person is compelled to exercise in an effort aimed at burning the calories of food energyand fat reserves to an excessive level that negatively affects their health.”

Some of the symptoms of exercise bulimia are:

  • Working out with an injury or while sick
  • Becoming depressed if unable to exercise
  • Working out for hours at a time each day
  • Not taking any rest or recovery days
  • Defining self-worth in terms of performance

As society becomes more health conscious, there are examples where people do take extreme measures toward their health and, therefore, could fall under the category of being classified as having exercise bulimia.

But just how far can one stretch the exercise bulimia tag?

Is someone who works out three hours a day, six days a week considered to have exercise bulimia? What if that same person was an NCAA athlete, training for a marathon or prepping for a bodybuilding competition? Is it necessary to have a means to an end, so to speak, relative to your exercise goals? Why is someone who works out three hours a day, six days a week and doesn’t neatly fall into a sub-category of “athlete”, “marathoner” or “bodybuilder” to name a few, considered to have a problem?

When too much exercise starts negatively affecting other parts of one’s life, then something should be done. But for someone to claim that it is narcissistic or self-serving to workout 15-20 hours a week, “just for the hell of it” is wrong.

Other hobbies that take large amounts of time such as hunting, fishing, golf, cooking, reading…etc. are not frowned upon in the same light and do not fall under a subset of a “psychological disorder” as does exercise, probably because no one would waste time researching if playing too much golf is considered a “psychological disorder”

As the Sly & The Family Stone song ‘Everyday People” said, “Different strokes, for different folks.” The same applies to exercise. Some people are genetically built to withstand 15-20 hours of training a week, even if it is just for their own personal self-gratification and not serving a “greater purpose” – i.e. –  a game, race or competition.

Moreover, those who follow a strict exercise regime are more likely to succeed in other areas of life due to the discipline they developed through their training.

Plus, last I checked there are 24 hours in a day. One usually sleeps for 6 or 7 and works for 8, so that leaves anywhere from 9 to 10 hours that are up to the individual to do what they wish. And what’s so wrong with spending three of those hours exercising?


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