“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. Glad you wrote this buddy! Exercise should be a means, not an end. Even top Olympic athletes have periods when they recover and don’t train at all.

    Build an active and fun life and let exercise be a tool that helps you achieve this.

    Being fit has it’s benefits – you look and feel good and have more energy for work as well as play!

    Btw it’s spring time guys (for us in the northern hemisphere) go out and play in the sun, enjoy evenings out with your buds, visit
    concerts, and stay up out late 🙂


  2. I agree with everyone else: great post!
    Also, sorry about your grandmother. My grandpa had a triple bypass in February. He is 87 and I love him very much. My condolences go to you and your family. While I don’t know what you’re going through, I can only imagine. We are all inspired every day by the wisdom, kindness, and time you put into this blog. Hopefully you can get through this rough time.
    Your post calls to mind the mistakes we all make, sometimes focusing on things that don’t matter. We all must remember to put things into perspective.
    Obviously if you need anything, I’m sure anybody here would help, including me.

  3. Great post Rusty! I couldn’t agree more. There is so much more to live for than the gym and exercise. Everyone needs to strive to find the happy medium to get the most out of life. Sorry to hear about your grandmother…my sincere condolences. My grandmother is getting up there and I love her dearly…i try to cherish every moment i can.

  4. Rusty,
    Thanks for the great advice and continued guidance. I know I will reach my goal soon. I just have two more questions on implementing this new routine. In performing double the volume for shoulders am I going to failure in order to break down the muscle and also am I still hitting shoulders twice per week like in my strength training routine?

    P.S. Thanks to you I love body weight circuits and frequently substitute them for HIIT. If you ever give the one I posted a try tell me how it works out.

  5. Great post again. Looks like gaining in age also gains on insight! Smelling the roses on the way through life is definitely the thing to do! I too was guilty of living for exercise, but not sure if I was addicted…very close though. I still exercise, but being older, I would like to smell those roses too! Enjoy life everyone!

  6. nice post rusty!

    one thing i dont understand, how is it possible to become “addicted to exercise?” like, i currently am doing interval circuits over a 10k distance (tired of jogging, so now i just try to sprint instead). if i were to do this on consecutive days, for example, my legs simply could not function after the third day (never mind it would be difficult enough on the second day). being addicted in this way must destroy your body…i guess its like being addicted to anything else, such as alcohol, you keep doing it, and eventually you will destroy yourself.

  7. Great post Rusty. If you don’t mind, sorry to hear about your grandma. The comments left by others regarding this post further stresses the point of gym “monkeys”. I call them gym monkeys because all they do is hang around the gym all day. I hate to say it but it seems like I’m the first person to show lament towards your grandma’s passing. Again I’m sorry.

  8. something i’ve noticed is if you workout all the time and have an attractive body but sacrafice a lot of time and go crazy in ordre to attain it. f your girlfirend knew how crazy you were about getting that body, she would find it less attractive

  9. Another wonderfully aware post. The HITTS just keep on coming. Pun intended. 😉
    Keep up the great work, Rusty. You set the bar.

  10. I totally subscribe Rusty, what’s the point of looking good, and being in shape if you don’t enjoy Life and sacrifice everything to workout.

    I knew a lot of guys that spent their days at the gym, and then at home resting, because they had to be resting all the time to speed up recovery and muscle growth, so they didn’t have a Life.

    Others in family special dinners don’t eat a nice dessert because they have a very rigid diet to gain muscle and keep lean, so they can’t add a few extra calories.

    Those guys don’t Live it all, they spend year after year locked in the gym and resting at home, without tasting anything, without tasting Life, they look good and in shape just for themselves, but for me they’re healthy, they’re not balanced, mentally they’re “sick”

    Life is to be lived fully, so balance things, working out is a pleasure, but it’s just one of the so many good things in Life, and we should enjoy it.

  11. Important post Rusty!

    There was a period when I was obsessed with running (before I gave it up completely!). Looking back, it’s probably the time that I was least “healthy.” Yet it was the period when I spent – wasted – the most time on exercise. Now, like you said, I exercise in the shortest time possible to reach the goal. Efficiency is the name of the game.

    I remember Brad Pilon telling me a story about how he frittered away what could have been a lovely evening – at a wedding reception – because he wouldn’t touch the food and was grouchy about the fact that everyone else was enjoying theirs. My advice is always to do the right thing 90% of the time, whether diet or exercise. Then, when the other 10% comes up, as it inevitably will, you can actually ENJOY it…


  12. Russ, I’ve been following your blog for a month or two now and now that my life has settled down a bit(recently took over as the kitchen manager of a bar in Nashville and all the fun that comes with getting used to that job and fixing the mess I inherited from the last guy).

    Anyways, I have recently started a program I figure will take me a few months to get more or less the look-that I want and you endorse, Tyler Durden, Craig’s James Bond, Ryan Reynolds(Amiyville Horror not Blade 3). It includes many things I’ve read here like HIIT ala C. Ballyntines crazy 8’s, eat stop eat, also other things I have done for myself included quitting smoking and drinking for a few months(water fast helped loads with withdrawl) and a vegetarian diet while I’ll be on this program. I pulled off almost 50 pounds two years ago doing steady state cardio and now want to see what I can do with the last 15 or so hanging around with this program.

    I have however a question or two that are fitness related and one that is not so much.

    I do the crazy 8’s 3 times a week if nothing better comes along(like soccer with friends, or nocturnal activities which are occasional side effects of working in a bar), the other 3 days, I do bicep curls with low reps(also gleaned from here) going 4 reps slowly then alternating hands which as you may have mentioned allows me to go longer and not really hit failure. I was wondering your counsel on if this would give me bigger upper arms-I’ve got decent tone and strength and great forearms/grip strenth from what I’ve been told, but my bicep size is a bit lacking. Should I also maybe lift the dumbbell behind my head and hit the triceps too?

    Reason I ask is when I was a kid, before an injury and I worked for my dad as a roofer, I had amazing strength for my size and age and great arms and I kind of miss it, even though I was also about 15-20 pounds too heavy).

    Also, the last question is in relation to your blog. I’m interested in going back further than the recent post list and what I can find in the categories folders, but I can’t seem to find any archives of past posts around here, do you have one or am I so electronically illiterate that it’s staring me straight in the face somewhere and I’m missing it?

    Thanks for the site, your time, and taking the time to read et al. Good night- James.

  13. This is a great article.

    For myself, over most of my life I was healthy as a by-product of my lifestyle. When the responsibilities of life began to intrude on the “fun stuff” I did that kept me healthy, my fitness level also waned. When I started to make the conscious transition back to a healthy lifestyle, I had conflicts. Some of that conflict was from my attitude of having workouts dominate my day.

    I’ve finally relaxed about it, and haven’t seen my fitness level slip a bit. If anything, the extra rest helps me feel better.

    Great thoughts.

  14. Hi Rusty,
    Great post sorry to hear about your grandma the older generation always believe in providing wholesome meals, their the best! I did have a time when i was addicted to exercise. i was 18-22. i was going twice a day completely lived for the gym. im very aware now not to do that again. i limit my time and have days off, and very importantly i listen to my body if im tired, worked a long shift, i dont go. i must admit im pretty dedicated though! cant see that changing!

  15. hey rusty! my post is sort of off-topic, but your post reminds me of something that i dont see written about often enough: the mental/psychological approach to exercising.

    i was wondering, if you write an article perhaps on “exercise and sustainability” or “long term view for exercising” or “mental and psychological approach to exercising”…maybe you already have?

    what really impresses me is that you have been able to exercise for a long long time (i think it is THE reason i visit this site). you are not some “young punk” who blogs about their crazy workouts and even crazier diet methods. your posts speak volumes about your experience, which i have used to help me out a lot and avoid common pitfalls when exercising.

    too often i hear people who were in shape “in my twenties” and now they are completely out of shape. furthermore, people like brad pitt, hugh jackman, cam gigandet, etc. are awesomely in shape (or were) but they dont really impress me because they can summon an army of personnel to insure they are fit for their next movie. i think guys like jackman, and jason statham may be an exception though (especially statham, he is nuts!).

    what DOES impress me, are people like you, and others who post here, who lead normal lives, have kids, families, jobs they may dislike and/or work long hours, etc but are able to stay in great shape over many years, still eat healthy, etc.

    i want the changes i make to my diet and exercise routine, for example, to be long lasting and sustainable, not just something like “no beer and chocolate for 6 months!” or “no potatoes” or “i do HIIT 6 times a week and im ripped!”.

    what are some of the mental approaches/methods you use to “keep at it” for so long? i know for sure one method is varying your routine to avoid boredom. another one i am aware of is Seasonal Variation that athletes use (exercise differently based on the seasons). what about massive upswings or downswings that may occur in your life (injury, etc). how do you bounce back?

    i know for sure, though, getting addicted to exercising, while it may put you in great shape, will not last over the long term. kudos to those who have been at it for 10+ years, you are my inspiration! sorry if i offended any “young punks”!

  16. Excellent reminder Rusty! This post and it’s “test” bring back many memories of the experiences I have had around my own “knowing of myself” physically over the years.

    As you suggest it is all about “mindset.” Love relationships actually have offered me the deepest awareness into knowing myself. When the one you love has a challenge physically like CFS/ME things are put into perspective right quick. Bodies don’t unite, minds do.

    I guess I share this because as your post details, state-of-mind is the source of our Purpose and why we do what we do. When we begin to ask the questions at that level, the level of Mind, we really can be the Master of our Fate and the Captain of our Soul. Then mastery of our physical state can be as simple as ripples in the pond of our life, extending our own unique experience in a way that might inspire others to do the same.

    Thanks for stirring up so much for me with this post Rusty,

    Tim Owen
    Implementation Mastermind Coach
    Be All You Can Be

  17. I’m a full time university student and during the school year I dont get to exercise a whole lot at all. Once or twice a week at best. However, once I’m off school I gradually work my way back until I exercise every day. Thats right, ever day. I’d wake up at 10am generally, and eat and what not and have my exercise done before my lunch. Usually in the afternoon I’ll either go biking for at least 45min, because I love to bike, and its just fun and relaxing for me, or I’ll go out with someone. On a personal level, dont feel like I exercise too much because I dont think it interferes with my life. If I get busy, I’ll skip it, not a problem, but if I got the time, I’ll do it for sure.

    I was also wondering if it was ok for me to do my reps explosively, like as quick as I can, on the way up, then go back down real slow. Provided I got a warm up of course. I got this idea from a video I saw of Georges St. Pierre(Canadian UFC fighter) training. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPDVEWWP4KU Heres a link if your interested. Thanks for the help.

  18. Good stuff Rusty –

    Ironic – that my exercise addiction almost killed me. In my 20’s I tried so hard to “stay in great shape” – it almost ruined my life and my body. I was fortunate enough to catch myself before it was too late.

    I look around today and see so many of these types whose lives are being ruled and ruined by ‘fitness’ instead of being enhanced and maximized through fitness.

    Let’s keep spreading the word.


  19. Rusty

    I think this might be your best post to date.

    I agree with everything you said. Exercise is important, but I feel some people will skip hanging out with friends or doing something fun just to get their gym time in.

    Life is too short.

    Great post Rusty.

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