Regular exercise is an important part of living a happy and healthy life. Enjoyed alongside a balanced diet, regular exercise can help to bolster your defense against a number of serious health issues.
But at what point does regular exercise become a problem? When it comes to exercise, there really is too much of a good thing. There are a number of reasons that a person might develop an unhealthy obsession with exercise and it's important they know when to stop.
In this piece, we'll take a closer look at the concept of exercise addiction. We'll also look at exercise addiction facts and some of the reasons for the condition, and why it's so important for people to find a sense of balance.
What Is Exercise Addiction?
Exercise addiction is defined as an unhealthy and damaging obsession with exercise and general physical fitness. The addiction is a compulsive engagement despite the myriad negative consequences that inevitably arise.
In general, it is estimated that 3% of the population suffers from exercise addiction. Research is still ongoing, but early studies have found that certain types of athletes are more prone than others to exercise addiction. Marathon runners, for instance, are more likely to suffer from exercise addiction.
As with any other type of addiction, it's important that people carefully monitor their own habits to recognize any unhealthy behavior. If a person notices that their love for exercise is having a negative impact on their life, they might need to adjust their habits. If the problem persists, exercise addiction should be treated using a range of treatments and therapies.
As more people around the world continue to unlock the benefits of regular exercise, we will undoubtedly see more research into this area of exercise.
Why Some People Are Addicted To Exercise
There are a number of diverse reasons a person might suffer from gym addiction. Here's a look at some of the key reasons a person might develop an addiction in this area.
Chasing That Buzz
When a person exercises, their body naturally releases potent chemicals called endorphins. Those chemicals react with receptors found in the brain and this triggers positive feelings throughout the body.
As a general rule of the thumb, the more intense the exercise is the more intense the feeling will be. This leads some people to push themselves further and further in pursuit of those pleasant feelings.
As a person's tolerance to endorphins increases due to increased exposure, they might find that they have to exercise longer and harder. This can cause people to enter into an unhealthy dynamic where they are constantly chasing that familiar pleasant feeling.
Obsessed with Calorie Counting
Calorie counting is an important part of exercising and dieting. Accurate calorie counting can help a person to determine how much they need to exercise and eat, and whether or not they are achieving their dietary goals.
It's a delicate science, though, and accurate calorie counting often requires a lot of attention. Some people develop an unhealthy relationship when it comes to cutting calories. The complex nature of the process becomes addictive and some people become anxious that they are missing their goals, causing them to exercise obsessively.
An obsession with calorie counting can cause people to develop exercise addiction. They will exercise as hard and as long as possible to maximize the number of calories that they burn.
Food Guilt and Appetite Suppression
Lots of people around the world have a complex relationship with food. They are often concerned about their weight or appearance, and this causes them to feel very guilty about eating.
Those feelings of guilt can inspire a person to perceive exercise as a form of repentance. They will push themselves to new limits to make up for their perceived crimes or failures.
Lots of people also avoid taking appetite suppressants that work and instead use exercise as a form of appetite suppression. They use exercise as a way to limit the number of calories that they consume.
Losing Out On Social Occasions
Some people are very social and they cannot stand the thought of missing out on an important social occasion. They will meet with friends and family on a regular basis, and this can often cause them to eat and drink to excess.
Some of those people then decide to make up for their litany of social engagements with exercise. They believe that regular intense physical exercise can act as a counterbalance that will help them to maintain good health.
This means that lots of people develop exercise addiction as a counterbalance to other unhealthy social habits. This can cause a vicious cycle that leads people to feel burnt out.
Finding a Balance for Long-term Health
As with anything else in life, it's important that people approach exercise with an appreciation for balance. Too little exercise can cause a person to be unhealthy, just as too much exercise can have the same effect.
If you are concerned about developing an addiction to exercise, here's a look at some healthy habits for life in general:
Monitor your habits
First things first, you should make sure to monitor your habits and avoid falling into cycles unconsciously. There are a number of useful tools like activity trackers that can help you to see whether or not your habits are changing.
Also, pay attention to how you feel and what other people in your life say about your behavior. This can help you to stop any unhelpful behavior from spiraling out of control.
Make small adjustments
If you believe that there is an issue with your behavior, you should make a series of small adjustments to try and improve things. If you exercise too frequently, for instance, try to slowly reduce the number of workouts that you do each week.
Try to think about helpful adjustments that you can make gradually. This can help you to keep your behavior under control.
Make an intervention
If you believe that your behavior is an issue and that those small adjustments cannot help you, it's time to think about seeking a more serious intervention. There are a number of therapies and programs that can help people to tackle their exercise addiction effectively.