We all know that one gym rat who can spend countless hours working out. While it’s great that people are concerned about their well-being, there’s no denying that some people are addicted to exercise—and that’s a bad thing.
There are piles of evidence showing the ways overtraining not only sabotages the gains you’re after, but could even harm the body. Just look at eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman, whose body has broken down because he refuses to stop going to the gym.
Fortunately, the number of people with exercise addiction seems very low—one study pegged it at just 3 percent of the general population. A new study review, though, highlights that it’s much more prevalent among a particular group of people—those with an eating disorder.
People with eating disorders are 3.7 times more likely to be addicted to exercise than those with no such disorders, according to the study, which was published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders—Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity.
Researchers at Angila Ruskin University examined nine studies encompassing 2,140 participants, mostly women. Of those participants, only 408 showed any indications of an eating disorder. Shockingly, they were nearly four times more likely to be hooked on training.
A tool to identify exercise addiction would benefit the general population and researchers, the study concludes.
“It is known that those with eating disorders are more likely to display addictive personality and obsessive-compulsive behaviours,” Mike Trott, lead researcher of the study and doctorate researcher at Angila Ruskin University, said in a release. “We are also aware that having an unhealthy relationship with food often means an increased amount of exercising, but this is the first time that a risk factor has been calculated.”