Exercise in Futility


The United States is currently facing an obesity crisis that is only increasing with each passing year. Close to thirty five percent of adults in America are obese, with numbers being forecasted as high as fifty percent by 2030. There is a myriad of problems in our society that contribute to this epidemic, with most stemming from an08 environment that promotes the development of obesity. When looking at this problem deeper, we can see how this dramatic increase in peoples weight has not only changed our society’s health, but the way its functions.

With weight gain being the norm, but also labeled as an undesirable attribute in our society, we are the heaviest nation with the biggest focus on physical fitness. The fitness industry is estimated to bring in 25 billion a year in the United States, and 81 billion across the world. With people trying to be fit and look fit in an environment that combats them every step of the way, other problems are developing besides uncontrolled weight gain and our societies already skewed image of beauty.  Many are treating the gym and their workout regimes like it’s a job. Some are building their entire lives around it and having their workouts control large portions of their day. A significant group of people are now being recognized as exercise dependent. These are people who cannot miss a day from the gym, spend large quantities of time at the gym, and have their workouts dictate their lives.

How much exercise is too much? Most health organizations recognize that a 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise is needed each week. This is simply 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. While we cannot label over exercising with a distinct number, it can be identified by looking at lifestyle. The first sign that someone is beginning to become addicted to exercise is their workouts steadily become longer and of greater intensity. Then the individual becomes irritable when a regular exercise routine is missed. Finally the person realizes that they are over exercising, but will continue their routine as they sacrifice time for other things they enjoy or even push through injuries.

Exercise Dependence was first noticed in the 1970s. It is now recognized as its own disorder, but shares very similar characteristics to anxiety disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Exercise dependence is an example of an unexpected side effect of the culture we live in. It raises the question of where to go from here when it comes to reversing obesity? It also begs the question of just how important is exercise compared to other preventative measures?


Written by Idaho State University Dietetic Student,

Austin Kemper 


  1. Adult Obesity Facts. (2016, September 01). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
  2. Finkelstein. (2012, June). Obesity and severe obesity forecasts through 2030. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22608371
  3. How much physical activity do adults need? (2015, June 04). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/
  4. Jaaskelainen, L. (n.d.). Topic: Health & Fitness Clubs. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/topics/1141/health-and-fitness-clubs/
  5. Sherrer, K. (2014, July 28). 7 Signs That You’re Addicted to Exercise. Retrieved from http://spryliving.com/articles/exercise-addiction-signs
  6. Youngman, J., & Simpson, D. (2014). Risk for Exercise Addiction: A Comparison of Triathletes Training for Sprint-, Olympic-, Half-Ironman-, and Ironman-Distance Triathlons. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 8(1), 19-37. doi:10.1123/jcsp.2014-0010


*Posted by Rachelle Ausman, RDN, LD (Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Social Media Chair)
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