Melissa Ertl, Ph.D., is a psychologist and postdoctoral research fellow at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Irving Medical Center. She defines exercise addiction as the “craving of physical activity that results in extreme exercise that significantly interferes with important activities, occurs at inappropriate times or in inappropriate settings, or occurs despite injury or other medical complications” (via Columbia University Department of Psychiatry).
Compulsive exercise isn’t officially recognized as a mental health condition, but it often coexists with conditions such as eating disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder, according to a 2017 article in Psychology Research and Behavior Management. People who compulsively exercise might also exhibit traits such as narcissism, perfectionism, and neuroticism. Some researchers have linked exercise addiction with alcohol use disorder. Others connected it with behavioral disorders based on six criteria, such as having conflicts with friends and family about how much you exercise.
Even though exercise can be beneficial to your mental health, exercising too much can have negative consequences. Aside from the risk of being injured, compulsive exercise can also result in depression and problems with your social life.