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Compulsive exercise in teens – why there may be more there than meets the eye

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 21-11-2011

Exercise is an important part of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. While so many people – both children and adults – resist regular exercise, it can be refreshing as a dad to see your child hitting the gym, participating in sports and going for a daily run. However, sometimes physical fitness can begin to boarder upon unhealthy obsession – signaling larger emotional problems lurking beneath the surface.

While it can be difficult to distinguish between a truly active person and a compulsive exerciser, WebMD.com states that symptoms can include an elevated resting heart rate, insomnia, lethargy and fatigue, loss of menstrual cycle in women and deteriorating physical performance. The majority of sufferers, unfortunately, also tend to be girls.

If you begin to notice these signs in your child, take note of their physical activity. Healthy exercise is something many athletes enjoy, so be on the lookout for signs up unhappiness or depression. A child who consistently returns from a run only to head out again 15 minutes later for another workout is a likely candidate.

Obsessive exercise can also be a sign of an existing or developing eating disorder like bulimia, binge eating or anorexia nervosa. In these terms, over-exercise becomes a means of controlling a perceived weight problem or body image issue. These are sensitive issues, so approach the issue carefully and with an open mind, allowing your child to defend and explain their actions. By initiating this dialogue, you can help expose hidden insecurities or counteract growing problems.