Exercising is a great way to strengthen muscles and bones, reduce stress, improve coordination, and ward off a host of diseases like hypertension and osteoporosis. Except when it isn't.
When exercise becomes a compulsive behavior -- often driven by concerns about weight and body image -- it can actually whittle away muscle mass and damage the heart. Compulsive exercising, which is also called anorexia athletica or obligatory exercise, is characterized by the desire to exercise above all else -- even if that means giving up friends, missing social engagements, or pushing through workouts if you feel ill, injured or exhausted.
Another warning sign that exercising has become a health detriment instead of benefit, is feeling extremely guilty if you miss a workout, and doubling up your efforts in your next exercise session. The same holds true if a compulsive exerciser feels he's consumed too many calories before a workout.
If compulsive exercise is combined with an eating disorder such as anorexia (more on that later), the result can be fatal.