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What is Exercise Addiction? Common Signs and Risk

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Are you obsessed with working out? Have you been spending several hours working out after a long day? Does your mood change if you fail to complete your workout routine? Do you exercise longer the next day to compensate? The chances are that you have been postponing and canceling plans with your family to find time to work out.

Exercise addiction is the cause of your sudden behavior change. You are overtaxing your mental, physical, and emotional strength when you over-exercise.

This article will help you discover more about exercise addiction and how you can free yourself. Keep reading to learn everything you should know about exercise addiction. 

What is Exercise Addiction? 

The first step to overcoming exercise addiction is to understand it. Simply put, exercise addiction refers to an unhealthy obsession with exercise and physical fitness. Like other types of addiction, exercise addiction causes social, psychological, and physical problems.

It is important to note that exercise addiction does not refer to the quantity of exercise in a short amount of time. For instance, working out for long hours to prepare for a marathon does mean that you are addicted to exercise. The chances are that you are addicted to exercise if you become anxious and depressed if you fail to work out.

Exercise addiction will make you work out at odd hours and avoid social obligations. Individuals who are addicted to exercise are also likely to ignore their pain and continue working out if they are in pain. 

Exercise addiction is divided into different categories. Individuals who suffer from primary exercise addiction do not have an eating disorder. On the other hand, secondary exercise addiction occurs in the presence of an eating disorder. 

How Common is Exercise Addiction?

Although exercise has several positive rewards, more than 3% of adults in the country have taken it too far. According to recent research, various factors put individuals at a higher risk of exercise addiction. The following are the common risk factors for compulsive exercise: 

  • Individuals who have addictions from substance abuse are likely to develop exercise addiction when they start working out. 
  • Individuals who have trouble dealing with stress and negativity might get addicted to exercise when they start exercising. 
  • Peer pressure and pressure from society to maintain or build a perfect body might lead to exercise addiction. 
  • Athletes also have a high risk of developing exercise addiction. According to recent research, athletes with an obsessive passion and dedication to their sport are at a higher risk of becoming addicted to exercise than the public. 

Is Exercise Addiction Bad?

Working out has health and physical benefits. However, overdoing it has several side effects. The following are common side effects of over-exercising. 

  • Reduced performance. 
  • Mental and physical exhaustion. 
  • Working out can cause depression, anxiety, and confusion. 
  • Exercise addiction also causes aches and pain. 
  • Individuals who overwork are also prone to insomnia. 

Signs of Exercise Addiction 

The following are the common signs of exercise addiction: 

  • Starts to Impact Relationship

The first way to know you are an exercise addict is when you prefer spending more of your time exercising rather than with your loved ones. If your families and friends start making little comments about feeling neglected and they are a lower priority than your gym time, it’s a sign that you’re priorities are misplaced. 

  • Use Exercise as an Escape

Exercise addiction causes one to withdraw from all their emotional problems and opts to exercise. The gym is definitely a place to reflect and let your mind relax, but when you’re using it as a way to avoid other, particularly difficult relationships, the gym will only serve its purpose for so long. A temporary getaway is nice, but avoiding others for the long term by constantly exercising is not a fix. 

  • Priorities Suffer

Meeting work deadlines and being there for your children is vital. A person that is addicted to exercise will neglect all these and choose exercise. They will always extend their workout sessions over starting other work or prolonging other duties. 

  • Re-defined Happiness

When one is addicted to exercise, their happiness will always be dictated by the outcome of their exercise. A good workout will release the feel-good endorphin hormones. If your only source of happiness is that endorphin release, it’s no different than a drug addiction. Granted, the endorphins are a natural drug your body produces, but the premise is the same. Doing something over and over to get that release is a lot like any other illicit drug chase.  

How to Overcome Exercise Addiction?

Here is how to scale back if exercise addiction is hurting you:

  • Join a Gym or Workout Class

The first thing you should do is to join a gym or a workout class (TRX workouts/classes, for example). Exercise when the instructor is there to guide you and ensure you’re making safe progress and gains. If you’re comfortable, be social with others in the class so you can feel like you’re a part of the community. Always leave the gym immediately after the exercise session and nourish your body with fluids and proper nutrition.

  • Play

An individual can change their exercise routine in case they note that they are an addict. Doing more playful activities such as yoga and dance routines can help you deal with exercise addiction.

  • Talk About Your Exercise Addition

Talking about your exercise addiction will go a long way towards helping you overcome it. When others are there to support you, you will feel obligated to not let them down. You don’t need to announce your issue to everyone, but informing those that care about you will encourage you to step away. 

Wrapping up!

Hitting the gym, getting your fitness on, and being healthy is nothing to be ashamed of. And it’s very much encouraged. When your workout routines and habits infringe on your relationships, work, family time, or other obligations, it’s time to reflect on how hard you’re hitting it. Rest is part of the exercise program, so make sure you’re getting enough.  

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