Is exercise addiction detrimental to your running? with Heather Hausenblas

Dr. Heather Hausenblas PhD, is a physical activity & healthy aging expert, researcher, and author. Today we discuss the fascinating topic of exercise addiction. Here are the topics: The difference between exercise addiction and exercise committed. Typical behaviour and characteristics for someone who is addicted to exercise. The consequences associated with this addiction. The involvement of social media & health devices on the running population. Strategies & measures to help exercise addiction. Click here to learn more about the PHT video course & to receive your 50% discount If you would like to learn more about having Brodie on your rehab team go to  Or book a free 20-min physio chat here

Title: Exercise Addiction: Is It Hindering Your Recovery from Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy?


Proximal hamstring tendinopathy, often referred to as high hamstring tendinopathy, can be a debilitating condition for athletes and non-athletes alike. In this podcast episode, we delve into the intriguing topic of exercise addiction and how it may impact individuals dealing with this painful condition. Join us as we explore the link between exercise addiction and proximal hamstring tendinopathy, uncovering valuable insights and potential solutions.

Understanding Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy

Proximal hamstring tendinopathy is a condition that can affect anyone, from elite athletes to recreational runners. It causes pain in the buttock region, especially when sitting, and can severely limit an individual’s daily activities. In this episode, we aim to shed light on effective evidence-based treatments and dispel common misconceptions surrounding this condition.

Meet Our Host and Guest

I’m Brodie Sharp, your host for today’s podcast episode. As an online physiotherapist and recreational athlete, I have a personal understanding of the challenges posed by proximal hamstring tendinopathy. Joining me is our guest, Heather Husemblas, a renowned expert in physical activity and healthy aging. Heather’s extensive experience in researching exercise addiction makes her the perfect guest to help us explore this topic.

Exercise Addiction: Unveiling the Reality

Exercise addiction is a topic that often flies under the radar. Many people believe that exercising every day, even multiple times a day, is essential for a healthy lifestyle. However, what happens when your body signals the need for rest, and exercise addiction blinds you to this crucial message?

Heather’s Background

Before we dive deeper into the subject, let’s get to know our guest, Heather Husemblas. Currently a faculty member at Jacksonville University and a physical activity and healthy aging expert, Heather has authored six books and published over 100 papers in her field. Her research explores the effects of physical activity and diet on various aspects of well-being, including body image, mood, adherence, quality of life, and yes, exercise addiction.

Defining Exercise Addiction

So, what exactly is exercise addiction? Heather explains that exercise addiction is characterized by excessive exercise combined with psychological factors. It’s not just about the volume of exercise; it’s also about the mental aspects. Individuals with exercise addiction often crave physical activity during their leisure time, leading to physiological symptoms and psychological phenomena like withdrawal effects, extreme tolerance, and a perceived lack of control over their exercise habits.

Is There a Set Definition for Exercise Addiction?

While the definition of exercise addiction has become more focused over the years, there’s still no universally agreed-upon definition. Unlike mental health disorders classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM), exercise addiction remains a subject of ongoing research. However, there are certain components that researchers typically consider when assessing exercise addiction, such as excessive exercise and the associated psychological factors.

Common Characteristics of Exercise Addiction

Recognizing exercise addiction isn’t always straightforward, but there are common characteristics to watch out for. Individuals with exercise addiction often find it challenging to stop or reduce their exercise intensity and duration. They may give up on family or work commitments to prioritize exercise. Withdrawal effects, such as mood swings, can also be indicators. Furthermore, exercise addicts tend to exercise through injuries, making their condition worse.

Personality Traits and Exercise Addiction

Are certain personality traits more likely to lead to exercise addiction? Heather explains that research suggests that individuals high in extroversion, neuroticism, and low in agreeableness may be at a higher risk of exercise addiction. Extroverts with high energy levels, neurotic individuals with obsessive tendencies, and less agreeable people who are confrontational could potentially fall into this category. However, personality traits alone aren’t definitive indicators of exercise addiction.

The Gray Area: Commitment vs. Addiction

Many individuals rely on exercise as a coping mechanism or stress relief, especially when dealing with a busy, stressful life. While some may fear that taking a break from exercise might negatively affect their mental health, it’s crucial to differentiate between committed exercisers and exercise addicts. Commitment to exercise may involve missing a session occasionally but not feeling compelled to exercise through pain or injury. Exercise addiction, on the other hand, often leads individuals to prioritize exercise above all else, even to their detriment.


Proximal hamstring tendinopathy is a challenging condition, and exercise addiction can complicate recovery efforts. Understanding the signs of exercise addiction and how it relates to this condition is essential for both athletes and non-athletes alike. While exercise is undoubtedly beneficial for overall health, it’s crucial to strike a balance and prioritize self-care when necessary. If you suspect you or someone you know may be struggling with exercise addiction, seek professional guidance to find a healthier path forward.