The study has been published in the journal Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, which defines exercise addiction as having an obsessive approach to fitness that could have a negative impact on someone's health and social life.
Mike Trott, study lead author of Anglia Ruskin University in the UK said, main motive to conduct study was to assess risk. "It is known that those with eating disorders are more likely to display addictive personality and obsessive-compulsive behaviours. Displaying an unhealthy relationship with food often linked to increased amount of exercising, but for the first time risk factor has been calculated," added Trott.
The data of the study was drawn from nine studies covering a total of 2,140 people with an average age of 25. Researchers found that, people who display caharacteristics of an eating disorder ae 3.7 times more likely to suffer from exercise addiction than people displaying no indication of an eating disorder.
"It is not uncommon to want to improve our lifestyles by eating healthier and doing more exercise, particularly at the start of the year. However, it is important to moderate this behaviour and not fall victim to 'crash diets' or anything that eliminates certain foods entirely, as these can easily lead to eating disorders," Trott said.
According to the researchers, the study shows that displaying signs of an eating disorder significantly increases the chance of an unhealthy relationship with exercise, and this can have negative consequences which incorporates mental health issues and injury.
However in conclusion of study Trott mentioned, "Health professionals working with people with eating disorders should consider monitoring exercise levels as a priority, as this group have been shown to suffer from serious medical conditions as a result of excessive exercise, such as fractures, increased rates of cardiovascular disease in younger patients, and increased overall mortality."