Aug 21, 2012 9:56 AM by Marissa Torres
Doctors say an unhealthy disorder is on the rise, over-exercising. Some people obsessively, compulsively exercise to the point that it can interfere with work and personal relationships, even cause themselves serious injury.
53 year old Chris Lear admits he was never a runner, but when he dicided to join a racing series last year, he says the thrill of the competition became addictive.
"My goal was to try and come under 21 minutes for a 5k by the end of the summer," says Lear, "once you started winning, it's just very contagious."
So Lear says he started training harder, running longer distances and adding boot camp classes. But it was all taking a toll on his body.
"I just hit a point where I couldn't walk anymore."
Physical therapist Scott Epsley says he's seeing more and more patients like Lear who are over exercising and taking their workouts to dangerous extremes.
"It's very common in runners in particular, to see this over exercising mentality. There seems to be that psychological, type A personality," says Epsely.
In the last 12 years, the number of people finishing marathons has increased 50%. And it's not just runners, the number of yoga practitioners has exploded from 4 to 20 million in the last decade.
Psychiatrist Dr. Antonia Baum says it's all due to a number of reasons.
"They're afraid they're going to be fat, fear of losing control, fear of losing structure in their day to day life, not staying in shape, not staying desirable."
Baum also says over exercisers are often similar to people with eating disorders. They use exercise as a way to control their lives or an escape.
It becomes a problem when it gets in the way of social activities or relationships; and of course, when it starts to affect their bodies physically.
"Unfortunately, the way most people know is because they start to get pain," says Epsley.
Things like over use injuries, bone stress, shin splints and tendonitis. Epsley says over exercisers will also feel extreme fatigue and joint stiffness.
Chris Lear suffered a stress fracture and had to take a break from running. But after a few months of rest, he's now back on track.
Physical therapists told us that it's often not how much exercise you're doing that will cause injury but how fast you ramp up when you're training. Exercise will affect everybody differently, the important thing is not to wait to see a doctor if an injury becomes chronic or worsens.