Addicted to Exercise


Exercise is good for all of us when taken everyday in some form or other for short periods of time, it helps to keep us to keep fit and healthy, however some people can go to the extreme with their exercise routine and it rapidly turns into an addiction which they can no longer control.

Just as with any addiction people come to rely on the feelings of well being and euphoria which their addiction brings, exercise can give a person these same feelings of euphoria or “rush”. Studies have shown that addiction to exercise is on the increase in gyms and fitness centres with both men and women now exercising for many hours at a time instead of the average hour spent at the gym exercising.

Signs that you are addicted to exercising

  • You begin spending more and more time at the gym.
  • You move from one form of exercise to another quickly, for example you use the treadmill then move onto the rowing machine and continue like this using most of the equipment available.
  • You sign up for more classes for example, yoga, tai-chi, aerobics, weight lifting.
  • Lifting weights or taking part in any strenuous form of exercise for more than two hours per day.
  • Returning to the gym more than once per day.
  • You feel uncomfortable not exercising.
  • Your always on the move when not in the gym finding it hard to sit and relax.

Over exercising linked with bulimia and anorexia

Being addicted to exercise has been linked with anorexia and bulimia when instead of the person inducing vomiting to purge themselves of food they over exercise to rid themselves of the calories. All addicts whatever their addiction have a fear of loss of control and over exercising is a way of gaining control over the body.

What do people get out of over exercising? Addicts have the addiction because of the feelings their addiction brings them and over exercising is no exception, when we exercise the body releases the body releases chemicals called endorphins which bring a feeling of elation which gives a person a “rush” or “high” as it is commonly called.

However just as with any addiction this feeling eventually is only brought on by increasing the amounts of the thing which gives them the “rush” which means more and more exercise must be taken to achieve the same feeling.

What can be done to break the addiction?

Over exercising can have the opposite effect of why we should exercise in the first place, exercise is only good for us in moderate daily amounts anything beyond this begins to damage our health, both physically and mentally.

Experts recommend that anything beyond 90 minutes of continuous exercise 7 days a week is too much and you are becoming addicted and the only way to break the habit is by ceasing any form of vigorous exercise for at least a month. This they say allows the body to get some much needed rest to recover and helps the mind to heal and break the pattern of addiction.

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