Addiction Series: Fitness Addiction

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RENO, NV - Addictions can consume people's lives. But there are some addictions many people struggle with you may have never thought of. In this addiction series, KOLO 8 News Now's Samantha Boatman is going to tell us about warning signs to addictions that may be happening around you.

Most people who work out like to balance the weight of their day by getting in a good exercise. Runners increase the speed on the treadmill, others take pressure off their knees by working up a sweat on the eliptical.

But what if working out or staying fit has become an addiction.

Addiction Therapist Michele Happe says it happens more often than you might think.

"It starts with a compulive obsessive nature and we sort of pick what it is that we are going to obsessed about and compulsive about. So if we have this low self esteem at some level, we turn to exercise and then we have this standard that is unrealistic," says Happe.

One recovering addict talked about her experience with addiction. She would like to remain anonymous. She will be called "Barbara" throughout the addiction series.

Barbara says addiction is contagious. Like Happe, she says it can start with low self esteem and the "fix" to fill the void can spread to other addictions.

"How do you overcome the obsession, like if you're obsessed, or whatever your fixing on, how do you lose that obsession? I wish I could tell you," says Barbara.

"It can be very very serious, all these addictions one way or another can lead to death," says Happe.

So what's the difference between staying healthy and having an addiction to fitness?

We asked personal trainer Rachel Koester just how long an average workout should last.

"The old school lifting two to three hours in the gym, thats just long gone, so I would say an hour. If you're still in here an hour later, and still have enough energy, I'd say your workout probably wasn't hard enough."

She tells her clients to eat a balanced diet because exercising without eating enough can be extremely dangerous.

"I ask them, do you put gas in your car, and it makes them kind of think, well it's the same concept with your body," says Koester.

Rachel says there's a couple people she sees at the gym too often, working their bodies too hard.

"I kinda have to threaten them, you need to take a break, I need to not see you in here tomorrow," says Koester.

Rest is something that's as important as your workout. Rachel recommends exercising two days then taking a day off.

"A person who likes to be fit and healthy, isn't going to feel guilty when they don't exercise. So, if your standards are too rigid and too high, you're much more likely to have a problem with that," says Happe.

Michele says one of the most difficult part of a fitness addiciton is the person admitting there's a problem.

"It's when other things start happening, when the fitness turns into an eating disorder somebody starts vomiting up their food or binging and starting, binging and starving or just starving and they develop an unhealthy condition, then they might look at the fitness addiction," says Happe.