29 March 2012
Addicted to Exercise
Imagine the hardest workout you have ever done, would you ever do that workout 2-3 times a day for 2-4 hours? Now imagine you had no choice, your brain was telling you that you had to do it; your addicted. People can become addicted to exercise. Attitude is what separates healthy vs. unhealthy exercise. An addict’s exercise becomes unhealthy and leads to physical injuries when it encompasses their mood and dictates their life. According to American Fitness Journal, “25% of serious athletes over train and are possible candidates for being addicted to exercise.” A study was done at the University of Kansas, “out of 5000 students 30% could be classified as having an exercise addiction.” Exercise is such a huge part of today’s society that this addiction is often overseen and almost encouraged. To maintain a healthy society people need to be informed about exercise addictions and the problem needs to be treated by seeking help and maintaining a proper workout plan. Exercise is not a remedy for everything, it has its risks. “Exercise addiction is a compulsion to exercise to reduce anxiety, body discomfort, and appearance” (Cumella). According to an article by Bernard Harmon in the American Fitness journal, “exercise becomes an obsession when it takes over your life and disrupts social and occupational functioning.” Having an exercise addiction can be both a physical and physiological problem. A patient with an addiction to exercise will use it as a “defense to prevent feelings of inadequacy and self-criticism” (Alvarado). In the article “Too Much of a Good Thing,” by Jim Carpenties, he says there are two categories that an exercise addict can fall under: muscle dysmorphia and overtraining syndrome. Muscle dysmorphia is when a person’s mind becomes excessively preoccupied with building muscle, while overtraining syndrome patients are obsessed with cardio workouts and preventing obesity. Griffin writes, “The thought of a rice cake will make them run 5 miles to burn it off.” Exercise addiction was initially recognized as a symptom of anorexia and bulimia. “The difference between eating disorders and exercise addictions is that eating disorders are done secretly while an exercise addiction is done with indifference and failure to recognize the problem (Cumella).” Patients confidently continue working out because everyone around them is doing it. Our society praises and promotes exercise, which aids the obsession to workout to achieve the perfect body and can easily lead to an addiction. As said by Kristof in his article “Addicted to Exercise?” in the New York Times, “An addiction is neurological consequences when the brain’s pleasure circuits respond. The pleasure center of the brain becomes numbed so the addict needs more to generate a satisfaction.” To prove exercise can be an addiction “Boston researchers showed an increase in anxiety, depression, anger, and lower self-esteem when they stopped a group of runners for 2 weeks” (Alvarado). Kristof also writes, “Exercise triggers release of chemical endorphins, enkephalins (the brain’s version of opium), and endocannadinoids (the brain’s version of marijuana).” According to Behavioral Health Management, “Like drugs the exercise raises these endorphin levels and patients experience feelings of well-being but decrease their awareness of emotional and physical pain while working out.” If you are addicted to exercise it begins to define you and your daily routine is scheduled around your workout. Alvarado tells a story of one girl who, “At 2 a.m. was in her room, running in place.” Missing one day of exercise will cause a patient trauma. Addicts will exercise 2-3 times a day for 2-4 hours. In the case of overtraining syndrome, “addicts will count their calories in order to burn them off” (Harmon). Griffin’s article in the Irish times says, “Most modern gym equipment now has calorie counters which can...