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Learn more about the signs, causes and treatment of exercise bulimia

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Exercise and physical activities are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Staying active has many benefits including improving your immune system and boosting brain processes. However, there is such a thing as too much exercise. Exercising too much or too hard can cause damage to a person’s body.

People with exercise bulimia are obsessed with exercise and often binge. Bingeing is when someone eats large quantities of food in a short amount of time. Unlike traditional bulimia, people with exercise bulimia don’t purge after they binge – instead they exercise excessively as a way to lose the weight and relieve the guilt of bingeing.

Exercise bulimia has dangerous complications, including depression, injury, weak bones, reproductive problems and even cardiac arrest. So it’s incredibly important to seek treatment. Effective treatments are available for all forms of bulimia, and recovery is very much possible.

Signs & Symptoms

Exercise bulimia can be tough to spot because moderate exercise is a positive and healthful habit. Also, some people participate in rigorous workouts to train for marathons and other physically challenging activities. But there are important distinctions between healthful and harmful exercise. Remember that appearances can be deceiving. Just because a person might look fit doesn’t mean they’re healthy.

Signs and Symptoms include:
• Missing important events, like school, work or social functions, in order to exercise
• Exercising several hours a day
• Exercising most days without taking a break
• Exercising when they are sick, exhausted or injured
• Feeling deeply depressed, agitated or anxious when they can’t work out
• Suffering from health problems such as dehydration, exhaustion, injuries, osteoporosis, arthritis
• Isolating from others
• Overly focused on appearance
• Overly self-critical
• Amenorrhea (when a woman’s menstrual cycle stops, which can contribute to severe bone loss and reproductive problems)

As with forms of bulimia, exercise bulimia is caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, abnormal levels of certain chemicals in the brain, low self-esteem, perfectionism and a societal emphasis on thinness.

If the above signs and symptoms describe you or someone you know, it’s important to seek help. Exercise bulimia is a treatable disorder. There’s no reason to suffer. Click here to find help on your campus.