Fifty-two percent of triathletes, 25% of runners, and 3% of regular gym goers have developed a fitness habit that’s unhealthy. For thousands of people, getting in a sweat session is no longer a feel-good activity, but rather a compulsion. Exercise addiction is real, and it’s on the rise.
Exercise addiction often starts as a peer-encouraged means of achieving a happier state: It wards off tension. It dampens the impact of stresses at work or school. It takes the edge off self-consciousness. Or it kicks off that runner’s high, which makes you seriously think you just might be super (WO) man.
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Exercise addiction usually starts with a desire for physical fitness. An eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia, may lead to an unhealthy obsession with exercise. A body dysmorphic disorder, or body image disorder, may also cause exercise addiction.
Exercise releases endorphins and dopamine. These are the same neurotransmitters released during drug use. An exercise addict feels reward and joy when exercising. When they stop exercising, the neurotransmitters go away. An addict has to exercise more to trigger the chemical release.
One of the strongest signs that someone has an exercise addiction is an inability to concentrate on other things because he or she is always thinking about exercise.
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Exercise addiction makes it difficult to carry on a satisfying social life, as people with this disorder often skip special events and activities in order to exercise. Even exercising with other people is difficult, as compulsive exercisers do not like to have their routines disturbed. They would rather exercise on their own so they can control the components and timing of the exercise session.
Excessive exercising coupled with a no-oil, low-calorie diet, leads to a deficiency of D3, B12, and thyroxin. Consequently, the person falls into depression. They begin to have negative tendencies. They can neither adjust at home, nor at work. This is the crux of the problem of excessive exercising.
Exercise addiction is serious, but the good news is that there are treatment options available. When exercise addiction occurs, psychotherapy may help change beliefs and behaviors. The psychotherapy should address self-esteem issues and distorted body image in addition to the central issue of exercise addiction.