Exercise addiction


Exercise is one of the most beneficial activities to humans. And it also applies to men and women in a recovery phase from addiction. However, a common question that most people ask is can we suffer from exercise addiction?

Well, addressing this issue is impossible without understanding what exactly exercise addiction is. Exercise addiction is an unhealthy fixation with physical fitness and exercise. Eating disorders and body image issues are frequently to blame. Addiction to exercise has many characteristics with other addictions, including:

  • fixation on a particular action or set of actions
  • despite your desire to cease indulging in the activity, you continue to do so secretly.

Chemicals in the neurological system are released as a result of physical activity. This group of neurotransmitters is responsible for inducing feelings of pleasure and reward. Part of what causes exercise addiction may be a reliance on the pleasure response.

Excessive weight loss and accompanying health issues may be caused by exercise addiction. Hence, it’s possible to have an exercise addiction. Knowing the causes, symptoms, and treatments are important things to know. Let’s dive in for more details:


What Causes Exercise Addiction?

Endorphins and dopamine are released when you exercise. These are the same neurotransmitters that are produced when people take drugs. Exercising provides an addict with a sense of satisfaction and pleasure. They lose their neurotransmitters when they stop exercising. Addicts need to work out more to get their fix.

A drive for physical health is often the first step toward an exercise addiction. An unhealthy fixation with exercise may develop due to an eating illness such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia. For some people, exercise addiction may be caused by a condition known as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).


Signs of Exercise Addiction

There are a couple of things you notice when you’re having an Exercise Addiction, and these include:


Exercising to compensate for food or body parts you dislike

If you’re working out too much and too frequently to make up for what you eat or what you believe about your body, it’s a sure indicator that your exercise routine is harmful.


You never miss a workout.

If the receptionists know more about you than your coworkers and recovery partners, you may be spending too much time at your gym.

People obsessed with working out may spend three or four hours a day at the gym, or even go there several times a day, while others who are regular gym rats may just spend an hour or two there each week.


You alter your activities to suit your training timetables.

Do you have to reschedule or cancel plans at the last minute to fit your exercises into your schedule?

It’s not uncommon for gym-obsessed people to change their plans or scheduled activities and social events around the time they would normally spend at the gym,” Seti says.

Someone addicted to exercise may decline dinner with friends because it conflicts with their time at the gym.


Most of the time, you’re exhausted!

Spending excessive time exercising and not enough time caring for your body might result in fatigue and tiredness in the fitness center.

Following Seti’s advice, excessive exercise may place an unnecessary demand on your body and its systems, resulting in illness or injury due to the tension.


You have a poor perception of your body.

Countless hours spent at the gym will not improve your body image. There’s a significant risk that it will exacerbate the situation.

As Seti points out, “a lot of individuals who are fascinated with the gym realize that they have a negative body image.” You envision an unrealistic version of yourself and aspire to achieve that perfection, even if it is not healthy for them to continue indulging in that behavior.

An unrealistic body image may lead to eating disorders, overexercising, and other health problems.


Your outcomes are deteriorating.

Excessive time spent in the gym might lead to less progress. In other words, if you find yourself working out seven days a week while needing a day off, you may be in danger of overtraining, according to certified fitness trainer Jeff Bell.

You may get irritated, tired, and hungry,” he says. In this scenario, too much of a good thing may rapidly become bad.


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Steps To Take If You Have An Exercise Addiction

We already know that you can have an exercise addiction. Hence, you should be aware of effective solutions also. These include:


Keep a log of your workouts.

Keeping a log of your workouts can help you better understand how you feel and what you’re doing. Include the following in your diary:

  • Day of the week and time spent working out 
  • how you feel physically and mentally when you’re not exercising or resting 
  • how much time is allotted to fitness on a given day

After examining these sensations, it is possible to develop methods of shifting the perspective surrounding movement to one of liberation, rather than one of retribution. This is critical to a long-term wellness plan, according to her.

Make some changes. If you recognize any of these red flags, it’s probably time for a change. The ideal is to give your body time to relax and recuperate, but we all know how tough it may be to do so.

For those who are anxious at the notion of taking a day off from working out, try substituting active rest days for some of your exercises. Yoga, strolling, tai chi, and swimming are excellent ways to take a break from the stresses of daily life.


Seek the Advice of a Counselor

It might be tough to strike a balance between exercise that is good for you and exercise that becomes an obsession on your own. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, whether it’s addictive behaviors or substance abuse, call 866-600-7709 and speak with someone from the Anchored Tides Recovery team. 

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