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What Should I Do for Exercise While Recovering From Anorexia?

By Susan Diranian ; Updated August 14, 2017

Anorexia is defined as an intense fear of gaining weight. When recovering from anorexia, the National Institutes of Health recommends a day treatment program, group therapy and medication for depression and anxiety as well as the involvement and support of all family members and friends. Exercise may be allowed, but in a controlled environment.

Exercise and Recovery

Anorexia is a complex, multi-faceted disorder. Since excessive exercise is one component, it is important that those who are recovering from anorexia follow a very controlled exercise program, according to an in-depth article in "The New York Times." Once you re-establish healthy eating habits, gain some weight and are healthy enough, both physically and mentally, for physical exercise, work with your doctor to create a controlled exercise program. A controlled exercise program may also help ease any stomach and intestinal ailments that are typically associated with the disorder.

The Goal of Exercise

The goal of exercise is to improve physical fitness and stay healthy, and not to burn massive amounts of calories. It is important to see exercise as positive, fun and enjoyable. Group exercise programs, such as yoga and team sports, are recommended over solitary exercise programs, such as running or swimming. Exercise may also be used as a tool to reintroduce healthy eating habits in order to support strong bones and muscles.

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Benefits of Exercise

Exercise provides many healthy benefits, such as improving quality of life as well as your interaction with care providers. Exercise may also help you successfully complete treatment for anorexia. For female anorexia patients, exercise may help boost your musculoskeletal system as well as help prevent bone deterioration or the early onset of osteoporosis. Other benefits of exercise include improved body image, a more positive opinion about yourself and the possibility of discovering new interests, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Exercise Programs

Your care provider will determine the type of exercise program as well as the intensity level and duration of time that best suits your stage of recovery. Exercise is not recommended for anorexia patients who suffer from severe medical problems or who have not gained a significant amount of weight. Speak to your care provider about joining group activities such as tennis, racquetball or low-impact aerobics. Avoid solitary exercise programs.

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