Exercise Addiction: Adults and Teens | Families

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Exercise Addiction: Adults and Teens
Families, Health

JACKSONVILLE, FL -- "I would say I'm addicted."

And 15-year-old DeAndre Johnson's very proud of his dedication to keeping physically fit.

He's the freshman quarterback for First Coast High School, helping the Buccanneers keep their undefeated regular season alive.

When we caught up with him before Friday's big game (Nov. 18), DeAndre explained how keeping his body in shape by working out, takes up most of his time.

"You have no social life," DeAndre explains. You can watch more of his video interview on this web page.


Is DeAndre too into his workouts?  Is he truly addicted to exercise?

No, according to guidelines explained by Riverside Pediatrician Dr. Hilleary Rockwell.

"A dramatic change in weight or the appearance of the child," Dr. Rockwell explains, "would be a sign that things have changed as far as diet and exercise."

"then you'd have to look and see if there's a problem at that point."

Hear more advice from Dr. Rockwell in part 1 of the video story on this web page.

Dr. Rockwell also warns parents about allowing their teens to use supplements.

"We try to stay away from those with children," Dr. Rockwell states.

"Sometimes people see things on the grocery shelves that look like they're safe, but they're not really. We really try to discourage supplements like energy drinks or weight gain formulas for children.

"In small amounts, children are pretty resilient, but if you start getting addicted, it's not good for your body or mind," the doctor says, shaking his head.

We asked about the specific risks of teens using supplements and Dr. Rockwell was very blunt, describing the condition he sees some teens in when they come to his office for help.

"We see a lot of children come in with chest pain, problems sleeping, nervousness, jitteriness, palpitations," the doctor sternly lists.

"And this is just from these energy drinks, which is like drinking lots and lots of cups of coffee all at once."

"Kids are always trying to keep up, or get a leg up and be one step ahead," Dr. Rockwell tells us.

"You have to be careful when you're trying to supplement yourself with things other than healthy food, healthy sleep, and healthy exercise."


To you or me, 42-year-old Marilyn Gilman may seem extreme when it comes to exercising.

We first met the mother of 4 at the Riverside YMCA about a month ago.

She was jumping rope for a good 10 minutes, while skipping across the gym floor with a pair of earbuds on.

"The music helps keep me going," she explained.  "I just love it."

When Marilyn stopped her 2-hour workout to speak with us, she was barely out of breath; the result of keeping the same workout regiment for the past 20 years.

And then she mentioned the jacket.

"I put on a 12-pound vest before my girlfriend and I power-walk some of Jacksonville's bridges."


We had to get a closer look at that jacket. You can see it in part 2 of the video story on this web page.

We thought for sure Marilyn is addicted to exercise.

She's not, according to Ron Baxa, Medical Fitness Coordinator for the Wolfson Wellness Center at Baptist Medical Center.

He gave us 3 key indicators of exercise addiction.

"if you're not completing your daily activities that you need to get done," Baxa explains, "if you're missing your exercise and you can't be flexible to change your exercise routine, or if you find yourself being sick or injured on a regular basis, then you might be doing too much."

Baxa did admit, there are people who can stand more exercise than others.

"Some [people] are just gifted athletes like those who run marathons," Baxa states.

"Are they addicted?" he asks rhetorically.

"They may have some withdraws or some overlap," Baxa continues, "but you have to look to see how [exercise] affects you negatively."

With 4 children, Marilyn Gilman has plenty of other tasks to keep her occupied; and when she recently had surgery, she enjoyed not being able to workout for 4 weeks.

"If [exercise] starts to impact a person's work, family or physical or emotional being,' Baxa warns, "then you're looking at the addictive side effects of exercise."

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