Regular practice of physical activity or constant training, are usually very recommended habits when we seek to be fit, however, excesses can harm health and that is demonstrated when an exercise addiction occurs.
What is exercise addiction?
Although in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) exercise addiction is not yet contemplated, it is known that it is a behavioral disorder that can affect about 3% of the population who exercise regularly and harm both the physical and mental health of those who suffer from it.
Also described as a dependence on the performance of exercise or the compulsive practice of exercise, this condition can generate from over-exertion injuries to significant alterations in the behavior of the affected.
Thus, those who suffer from an addiction to exercise organize their life according to their practice and suffer withdrawal when they can not perform the usual training, including anxiety, irritability and other symptoms of compulsive behavior that characterizes the addiction.
Under these general features, some frequent characteristics can be found among those who suffer from exercise addiction :
- The constant need to exercise
- The non-practice of exercise produces anxiety, irritability or fatigue
- Need to increase the frequency and intensity of the exercise performed
- Lack of control over the desire to exercise
- An excessive amount of time invested in exercise practice
- Reduction of other activities of habitual life by performing the exercise
- Continuation of physical practice despite the presence of an injury or illness
The identification of three or more of the aforementioned indicators may indicate the presence of exercise addiction, according to the scale of dependence on the exercise.
The consequences of exercise addiction
Beyond the negative effects on the emotions and behaviors of the affected person that undoubtedly disturb their social life and affect their mood, addiction to exercise can cause the consequences of all addictive and excessively practiced behavior.
In this particular case, in addition to anxiety, irritability, and disagreement with what is done, excessive exercise can put physical health at risk, by subjecting the body to a considerable effort that causes stress and increased risk of illness and injury.
The injuries can be characteristic of the overload of the body and of the constant repetition of certain movements or, they can be caused by the lack of rest that does not allow adequate recovery.
Likewise, the resting heart rate can be raised, which indicates that the organism is stressed, and in the long term, excessive exercise has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
On the other hand, stress can generate insomnia and also reduce the body’s defenses, increasing the risk of disease.
As we can see, something as healthy as exercising regularly can become very risky when excess is reached, such as when an exercise addiction is suffered.
To prevent and reverse addiction to exercise, it is key to know that those who spend more hours training or structured physical activity, the more risk they have.
Thus, in the case of athletes or professional athletes, special attention should be paid, although we should all understand the benefits of the practice of exercise in moderate doses, without reaching excesses and knowing that nothing happens for a day that we do not go to the gym, but, on the contrary, it can favor our health and be helpful in improving performance.
Then, those who suffer from addiction to exercise require behavioral treatment through psychotherapy, while to prevent this condition it is essential to be aware that no excess is good for our body, not even that of exercise.
To be fit, vital and healthy, we must sign up for a life without excesses, where moderation prevails, also in performing physical exercise.