Exercise and Eating Disorders – Finding Balance

Exercise and Eating Disorder Recovery – Finding Balance



Some people in recovery from eating disorders tend to feel ambivalent about exercise. For many, exercise has been a tool that has helped to maintain the disorder. The idea that it can now be utilised as a resource for health and wellness might seem scary. How can something that was done with compulsion and lack of enjoyment be turned into an important part of recovery? Let’s take a look at why exercise is necessary for wholesome recovery, and how to go about it to benefit the mind and body.


It is going to be challenging, and will take some time, but you can learn to change your attitude and perceptions about exercise. Previously, exercise might have been used to help maintain the disorder, but now you can use it as a tool to help you overcome it. In other words, engaging in exercise can be a concrete way to help you take care of your mind and body, rather than a means for burning calories or exerting control over the shape and size of your body. Indeed, exercise doesn’t need to be associated with weight. Consequently, before even beginning to exercise, examine your motives behind wanting to engage in it. This is necessary to ensure you do so for the right reasons – for health!


The key is to guard against over-exercising, since doing so will be detrimental while you are in recovery. Here are a few tips on how to start and maintain a healthy balance between life outside exercise routines, and life while engaging in it. Remember, it may take a while to settle into a routine that is just right for where you are at in the recovery process, so don’t expect too much of yourself initially.


  • Vary exercise routines and guard against repeating the same set of exercises – you don’t want the routines to control your mind and movements.


  • Take it easy – you are not preparing for the Olympics, so don’t push yourself too hard. If you start to feel dizzy, sick or sore, you are overdoing it.


  • Exercises that encourage mindful awareness of the body – like yoga, tai chi or Pilates – encourage a growing, intimate, and new awareness of the body as you perform the movements slowly, gently, and carefully.


  • If you under-exercise through fear of becoming obsessed, it might be useful to devise a calendar to help provide prompts, including how long you will spend on the exercise.

Benefiting from exercise does not mean you have to undergo strain or pain. Furthermore, it’s best to steer clear of exercise machines and equipment that track how many calories you burn, or any routine which makes you conscious of numbers or measuring. Walking is an ideal form of exercise as it is almost impossible to abuse the body with it: you can’t walk for longer than what you are physically capable of. Also, it can be seamlessly incorporated into your lifestyle.


The key points to keep in mind when choosing an exercise routine are:


  • You exercise because you want to, and not because you feel pushed into it.

  • Choose exercises you enjoy doing.

  • When you experience physical pain or fatigue while exercising, stop immediately.

  • Try to exercise a little every day; a daily 15-minute walk is enough to start with.

  • Drink enough water during and after exercises, and make sure to eat so your body has enough energy to get through the day.

Categories: Health, Psychology

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2 replies

  1. Thank you for sharing this post. Its really good and helpful. Keep sharing

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