Editor, Daily Nexus:

Compulsive exercise. Many of us have heard about the staggering percentages of eating disorders among students on the UCSB campus, but do we realize that obsessive exercise is one of them? It seems to me that this strain of E.D. seems to trickle off, often going unnoticed and, like so many other aspects of E.D.s, is praised and reinforced by our culture. So you go to the gym, what’s the problem? Maybe nothing, but gyms can serve as a breeding ground for E.D.s.

Exercising can be used as a tool for health, but may also morph into a drive for thinness, a way to purge calories, a means to pacify an intense fear of fat or, ultimately, an addiction. And unlike other E.D.s, compulsive exercise is widespread among the male population. According to Dr. James M. Rippe of Tufts University School of Medicine, one of the nation’s experts on exercise, optimal exercise includes, “a diverse program that involves moderately vigorous activity and strength-training exercises, such as lifting weights.”

When is there a problem? Depression, anxiety or irritability when forced to stop exercising, extreme guilt accompanying a missed workout and giving workouts increasing priority over other activities and people can be good signs that there’s an unhealthy dependence brewing. Prevention includes scheduled rest days, allotted rehab time for injuries, mixing in low-intensity and less-distance workouts and cross-training. Try a variety of activities and choose short- and long-term goals. For a free, confidential appointment with an eating disorder specialist, call Student Health at 893-3371.

Remember that No Diet Day is Sunday, May 6!