“Exercise Addiction Inventory” – A 6 Question Test May Indicate Addiction

Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. Exercise is great, exercise addiction is not. Looking back, I know there were times when I was a bit obsessed with exercise. These days, I like to get it done in a short period of time and then move on to the “important things” in life. Today, while doing research for my site I came across a pretty helpful study. The study is called “The Exercise Addiction Inventory: A Quick and Easy Screening Tool for Health Practitioners.”

exercise addiction

[Exercising should be fun and feel good. There are times when you will push hard and test your body, but it should be energizing and a positive experience.]

Skip Your Workout When Something Fun Comes Along!

When I was in college I remember skipping a few last minute social events to make sure I got my workout in. It was a stupid mistake! Never sacrifice having fun with friends to get your workout in. Most of the time you will be able to do both, but if someone calls you last minute to go to a concert or a football game…get out of your workout clothes, take a shower and live a little. Trust me, you won’t regret it. Your workout isn’t going anywhere.

Make Sure You Have Other Interests Besides Working Out

People that live and breath exercise and diet every waking hour are dull as hell! I want you guys to get fit, healthy and lean so you can be in better shape to enjoy things outside of exercising. Think of high profile people in good shape. Take Hugh Jackman for instance: He does theater, acting, singing, dancing, kicks butt as Wolverine, etc. Even though he is in great shape, you don’t really picture him living in the gym. He has a well-balanced life while staying in incredible shape.

Eat Grandma’s Cooking – The Pie, Mash Potatoes, Etc.

My grandma passed away three weeks ago and I miss her badly already. During the holidays she spent hours making delicious dishes. If I could go back in time, I would have eaten even more of her amazing food. I am not saying that you should give in to every temptation that someone puts in front of you, but “pick your battles”. If you are lucky enough to have a mother, grandma, or aunt that cares enough about you to make special meals…I say go for it without guilt! Diet a bit harder the following week if you want, but don’t miss such a wonderful opportunity.

More About the “Exercise Addiction Inventory” Questionnaire

Nottingham Trent University in the UK wanted to create a simple process that doctors could use to screen patients for exercise addiction. This wasn’t really meant to prove whether someone had exercise addiction, but was an accurate way to see if further psychological examination was needed. This is a screening to find people who are “at risk” for exercise addiction.

How The Test Works: This is a test where you give a point value between 1-5. 1 means that you “strongly disagree”, 2 means you “disagree”, 3 means that you are “neutral”, 4 means that you “agree”, and 5 means that you “strongly agree”. There are six questions and you put a number between 1-5 beside each question.

1. Exercise is the most important thing in my life.

2. Conflicts have arisen between me and my family and/or my partner about the amount of exercise I do.

3. I use exercise as a way of changing my mood (e.g. to get a buzz, to escape, feel different etc.)

4. Over time I have increased the amount of exercise I do in a day.

5. If I have to miss an exercise session I feel moody and irritable.

6. If I cut down the amount of exercise I do, and then start again, I always end up exercising as often as I did before.

What the Numbers Mean: Unfortunately, I didn’t find a definitive answer on what the overall score means. Other than this…”if you show a tendency towards agreeing with most of the questions, perhaps you need to seek help”. This is just a brief screening tool, but could be used to see if further steps need to be taken.

Bottom Line…Getting In Shape Shouldn’t Be A Huge Sacrifice

There are a lot of ways to get in great shape, my recommendation is to design a workout that fits around your lifestyle…not the other way around. You may need to make a few accommodations to fit it into your weekly routine, but it shouldn’t be anything drastic.

Note: Brad Pilon has another post I agree and fits in well with the whole idea of exercise addiction. He talks about Obsessive Compulsive Eating, which is similar to exercise addiction from a diet perspective. You will love how he simplifies diet…Nutrition 101.

36 thoughts on ““Exercise Addiction Inventory” – A 6 Question Test May Indicate Addiction”

  1. I always say to those struggling to exercise to schedule a regular time each day to exercise so you always know that 7:00 is time to workout for instance. You can also say that you need to set a time to stop working out. 7:00 is time to workout 7:30 is time to stop and go have fun.

  2. Scores of 24 and above would classify the tester as addictive, 13-23 would classify the individual as “symptomatic.”

  3. Hi Rusty,

    Sorry for not commenting in a while, busy at work and then vacation.

    First and foremost, sorry to hear about your grandmother, my condolensces for your loss.

    I think this post really hit the nail on the head about working out as being the means to a end not just the end. Make it a part of your active lifestyle but don’t stress out about missing a workout once in a while if something more important comes up.

    Still need to put aside time to visit that list of beaches you put up a while back.


  4. Yavor, thanks for the advice, but I’m limited in room and equipment, and the nearest gyms are for various reasons inconvient for me nor do I have much room for chairs for dips. That’s why I like Ballantyne’s crazy 8’s. I also like the convience of being able to exercise with bodyweight, dumbbells, and a doorframe mounted pullup bar. In two weeks, I already see a difference in my arms from doing what I’ve been doing, tweaked with Rusty’s recent advice. Anywho the idea is to increase the size in my arms, but I don’t want them huge either.

  5. Anthony,

    Yeah…I have had times where I let entire days slip by without doing much. Once you lose a day it’s gone. I need to remind myself of that frequently.


    You will eventually learn to enjoy working out. Keep at it and your body will change. Once you see fantastic results, you will be hooked…promise.


    Thanks for the advice and for the comment about my grandma. You the man!


    Yeah…you have to live and also allow some flexibility in your approach. I skipped my workout today to spend a bit more time on my site today. I’m trying to play a bit of catchup on comments…I really enjoy interacting with everyone on this site.


    So true about grandmas…I have tried to make a simple pastrami sandwich over 100 times and can’t replicate the way my grandma does it. Grandparents are a wonderful part of life.



  6. Hey Rusty, first of all, sorry to hear about your grandma. What is it about Grandma’s and their cooking? I can’t seem to make anything as good as my grandma makes even if I used every single ingredient and step in her recipe. Anyway, I like this post a lot. There are times when we obsess about exercise and nutrition a lot (especially us bloggers who write about them…haha) and this is a good list to do a “reality check.” I have also decreased the time that I spend on my workouts lately but have been making them harder which I find to be refreshing. This adds variety to my routine and also some fun along with it.

    Thanks for sharing!

  7. Super post!

    I just want to say I agree wholly with all that you have said. I regret the times thatI chose a workout over other activities. It is true for me that on my way out of the gym I am in a better, less-stressed mood but I have found that any guilt for missing a workout can be overcome by having a sensible diet. No muscle will be lost for missing one workout.

    I’m so glad that guys like yourself, Brad Pilon, Craig Ballantyne, Mark Sisson have all helped me realise that being healthy does not need to take up all of your time. Its a lifestyle choice, not a count on how many hours you spend down the gym. Whether its healthy eating, eat stop eat, a 5 minute TT style workout or going to the gym, I feel I now have a healthy solution for every situation. No need to pass up that social event just to get to the gym.

    Thanks again Rusty.

  8. Semper Phi – you will get bigger from chins and dips but you need to push yourself more and more.

    Get to 40-50 dips and get back to me if you don’t have bigger tri’s and chest

    Good luck!


    p.s. Rusty – my condolences for the loss of your grandma.

  9. Ps- Why do people say that excercise make them feels good and happy. I feel really crap and tired after a workout and a little bit sick.

  10. I have never understood excercise addiction at all. I have been to the gym for a few years now and i hate every minute of it. I could never imagine that i would get addicted. Maybe its becasue my body just doesnt want to change and grow muscle that it is frustrating and feels like a waste of time but maybe if my body responded quicker to workouts i would be alot more enthused to workout, whereas, now it feels like a chore and even though i dont give in to it, i look for reasons to not go to the gym. Such as, oh its too late, there are probably too many people there already etc. Damn body not doing what i want it to do.

  11. “The most important thing is to take some risks, try to make a difference, and don’t settle for less than you deserve.”

    That is a really good phrase Rusty!
    I definitely agree with what you said. I hope to be smart today to ensure longevity later.

  12. Former Marine and a math geek(Phi). The time in the marines wasn’t long enough to get me in excellent shape as I hurt my knee in basic and was drummed out. Will keep it in mind as far as the triceps go, and I’ve been doing pullups and chinups, but I think I just get stronger from them not bigger. About the archives page, I was just wondering if you’d one or not. I’ll scroll through and find ’em. Thanks again for all.

  13. Dan,

    I can barely remember 99.9% of my workouts, but I can recall hundreds of fun times I’ve had with family and friends. Just like you said, life is too short to skip the important stuff.


    Great to hear from you! I know your courses must be selling well, because you put good products out there. Anyway…young people who are just getting into working out seem to be the most vulnerable to workout addiction. I think it is because they want to get results that it takes years to achieve, but do it in 3 months.


    It sounds like you just focus really hard for a short few months each year. That is cool. I also think it is fine to workout extra hard for a vacation or wedding. The problem is when people stay this unbalanced year round. You can do explosive reps for part of the year, but understand that the injury potential is greater. Just use caution.


    True…it is all about mindset. Really the right mindset is the key to success in any facet of life. Good call.


    True…guys and girls in their 20’s that are in shape are a dime-a-dozen. It doesn’t take much to at least appear fit at that age. I am more impressed when I see people in their 30’s, 40’s, and 65+ and beyond in outstanding shape. There is a huge difference between people who “get in shape” and people who stay in great shape. I am hoping that all the younger people pace themselves a bit and have the mindset to do this for life. I turn 40 this December, but physically still feel as good as I did when I was 21. I’m hoping people don’t use age as an excuse to let themselves go…and there is nothing wrong with those who have a lot of weight to lose. I want to help them lose that large amount of weight and never look back. Thanks for the kind words, by the way!


    Luckily we had a feeling that my grandma might not make it and all of the family was able to tell her how much we loved her and say our goodbye’s. She was mentally sharp the last time I spoke with her and I was able to hold her hand and talk about all the fun I had with her growing up. She was one of my favorite people in the world. As far as working out goes…totally cool to be dedicated. I am too…I just get more done in less time than I used to.


    It is funny how life gets really busy at some point. I know exactly what you are saying. I love having a busy life, but it was tough at first, because I used to dedicate so much time in the gym. Now, I just do my best “to make it count” and then rest. Sounds like you do too!

    Semper Phi (James),

    I’m guessing you were a marine. Some of the fittest guys I have ever met had a military background. If you want bigger arms…definitely throw in some tricep work as well. For size it is fine to up the reps a tiny bit as well. Consider doing 5-6 sets of 5-6 reps. My biceps always look best when I include basic chinups in my routine as well. To find older posts, click on each category…one-by-one. Each post is categorized in one of those categories. I should have an archives section, but I do my best to keep my site as basic and uncluttered as possible.


    It sounds like almost all of the online fitness guys and girls used to be fitness addicts. I wonder if that is because so many of us trained in the 80’s and 90’s when the “more is better” approach was still kind of popular. I know that Mark Sisson used to train too much, sounds like Brad Pilon, me, you, and a bunch of other people online…live and learn. I’m hoping a few college readers, read this post and understand that road trips are much more important than their workouts. Good point…people should still be consistent most of the time.


    One of the HUGE reasons that I don’t like the typical bodybuilding workout is that it makes sore muscles. I have only been sore a few times in the past 10 years and I’m in the best shape of my life. I do remember when I use to do that high-volume bodybuilding training and having legs so sore that I couldn’t enjoy my weekends. Glad I finally see the light. No reason that your workout should make life less enjoyable.


    Love the corny pun…very good!


    Being too obsessed with your own looks is a huge turnoff to girls. One of the reason that big bodybuilder look is bad, it because it shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are “trying too hard”. Well balanced healthy people are more attractive to everyone.


    I know that people feel empathy for my grandma passing away. The great thing is that she lived a full life of 90+ years. I hope I live that long. Gym monkeys is a great term. There are about 10-20 of the same people I see in the gym every time I go…and I go at different times during the day. I hope they don’t feel regret when they look back on their lives to see how much precious time they spent in the gym.


    Addiction can trump pain. People do painful things to themselves when they are addicted. It is terrible for you and breaks down the body.


    It is true that age brings on insight. Many of the readers of this site are in their 20’s…hopefully they will make the best of such an exciting time in their lives. Actually, to be honest I like the age I’m at now just as much.


    You are going to do it twice per week, since you are just specializing on that one muscle group. You would overtrain if you did this with your entire body, but the way you are doing it is perfect. Those bodyweight circuits are outstanding. I substitute these for entire workouts when I’m short on time. I never go a week without 3 sets of theses bodyweight circuits.


    Grandma’s are one of life’s best things. Nobody can spoil you like a grandma. Grandpa’s are amazing as well. Mine is in his 90’s and still plays ping-pong with me…and he is still pretty good!


    You guys are great! I miss my grandma, but don’t feel extremely sad. She had a full life and we just celebrate it by remembering her. I want to live into my 90’s. The most important thing is to take some risks, try to make a difference, and don’t settle for less than you deserve. I love working on this site, because I really enjoy people. Things are nice, money is nice, but relationships with people is where it is at. You guys are all very supportive and it goes to show how many great people there are in this world!


    I’m excited by spring and concerts. I love music. Going to see Ladytron next Saturday. Seeing Coldplay in an outdoor amphitheater that has a big beer garden in summer, etc. Can’t wait to live life outside and stay up late, etc. Great time of year!


    I’m glad to have you as a reader of the site. If you want to be fit while living a well-balanced life, my advice is to hang around people who are doing just that. This blog has a ton of people who contribute and live life to the fullest…for that reason alone, it has become a great little site. Thanks for following for so long. You have a lot of great times ahead of you. Support your local beer festival (my public service announcement).


    Sounds like you are fit and have a great life. Wonderful to hear.


    Working out is a good stress reliever. I’m not someone who stressed out much, but I’m a little high-strung at times. I find working out gives me patience…especially on the road when people are driving poorly.

    Thanks for the comments!


  14. Hi Rusty,

    Great post. Sorry to read about your Grandmothers passing. My grandmother passed away quite suddenly just over a week ago so I feel your pain!

    I find a good workout though helps me to forget about the stresses in life, even if it is only for 45 minutes or an hour.

  15. Hi Rusty,
    Wonderful post you have here.
    Happy life is all about balance. Doing a bit of every thing. Sports, good meals, family, travel, party…..
    I personally do exercise twice a week, no more than one hour. That leave me plenty of time to do something else. And I’m fit and happy.

    Thanks Rusty for bringing this point up

  16. Great post!

    Once more I’m reminded how lucky I am to have discovered this webpage before embarking on a serious journey to fitness. (22 this year… avid fan/follower since 08 😉 )

    Had to say that when i first encountered this site, I was simply flabbergasted by what I always believed as the ‘truth’ as what you shared with us made so much more sense.. not to mention brings ‘life’ back into the whole equation.

    Keep it up rusty and live life people! Cheers!

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