Exercise is good for you, which everybody knows. Most of us also know that exercise releases endorphins, which means we feel better as well. Indeed, taking part in just 10 minutes of exercise improves our mood, reduces depression, makes us less angry and anxious, reduces mortality, and relieves aches and pains. Then, there is the fact that it feels good to get stronger and to look better.
Being “fit-spired” is a great thing. But sometimes, we start to take things too far. When the payoffs that working out gives us start to take over our lives, there may be a problem.
What Causes Exercise Addiction?
In most cases, exercise addiction starts gradually. Often, peer pressure makes us believe we will become happier by working out. Yes, scientific evidence demonstrate that we do become happier through exercise, but only in specific conditions.
Exercise of at least 21 minutes seems necessary to achieve reductions in state and trait anxiety, but there were variables confounding this relationship. As such, it remains to be seen what the minimum duration is necessary for anxiety reduction.
What research studies have also shown is that it becomes more and more difficult to get these benefits. This means that people start to avoid anything that could make them feel less good about themselves, and that they need to work out more and more in order to gain the same feel-good effects. This can quickly escalate into a full addiction, whereby your life is taken over by working out and going to the gym. This can affect all areas of your life, as you will start to spend much of the time that you are not in the gym thinking about what you will do once you return there.
The problem is that people all around you support you in continuing with what you are doing. This is because, physically, you always look amazing. As a result, you need to be able to recognize the indicators of a developing addiction.
Indicators of Exercise Addiction
There are a number of clear indicators that you are developing a problem. Doing more than you had initially intended on a regular basis is one of them. Working out even when you have an injury is another. If you notice that you have feelings of guilt about how much you do, or about missing a workout, you may also need to take stock. An Exercise Dependence Scale has been developed to help people identify whether they have a problem.
Exercise dependence is conceptualized and measured as a multidimensional maladaptive pattern of exercise, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.
Seven factors have been identified. The first is tolerance, which means more exercise is constantly needed. The second is withdrawal, whereby you feel bad physically when you are not working out. The third is intention effect, which happens when you work out more than you intended. Then, there is lack of control, which you should notice if you struggle to reduce how much exercise you do. Next is time spent, which looks at what percentage of time you spend working out and whether this infringes on the rest of your lifestyle. The sixth is reduction of other pursuits, which means you stop doing things other than working out. Finally, there is continuance despite injury.
Technically at least three of the criteria have to be met in order to even be considered an addict, but, you should also notice that your life is taken over by exercise. When your work or social relationships start to suffer, then you may have a problem. Various other studies state that exercise addicts also have specific personality traits such as neuroticism, extroversion and low agreeability.
Remember to share this article with all the people that you love so that they can also benefit from this valuable information.
Together we can make this world a happier, healthier world!