Questions and Answers: Excessive Exercise

Q. I have a young patient (23 years old) with AN who has a consistent exercise program. However, according to her description of her exercise program, I suspect she is seriously over-exercising. Is this unusual among younger ED patients? (J.W., Atlanta)

A. Exercising excessively is not uncommon among those with anorexia nervosa.  According to a recent study, the internet may also be contributing to this excess (J Psych Res. 2020. 11:004). The study involved young adults, who were grouped as having a probable eating disorders with excessive exercise, and a control group.  The study concluded that youths with eating disorders and increased exercise levels may have increased obsessive thoughts of threat, along with compulsivity traits, and sensation-seeking impulsivity. The study found that obsessive thoughts and eating disorders, paired with sensation-seeking, were partially mediated by problematic use of the internet. [Also see the article on orthorexia nervosa elsewhere in this issue.]


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