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Exercise Addiction

in Behavioral

One would think that exercise addiction is not a bad thing, after all studies have demonstrated the physical and emotional health benefits of regular exercise. 
Regular exercise is essential to our well-being. Unlike other addictive behaviors, we are encouraged to exercise more by our doctors, families and friends. However, there is such a thing as exercise addiction it effects about 8% of the gym goers -- and it can have harmful effect on one’s life.


The term addiction refers to any recurring compulsion or obsession by an individual despite negative consequences in their life and an inability to cease the activity and remain stopped. There are several similarities between exercise addiction and drug addiction, including effects on mood, tolerance and withdrawal.

 

Neurotransmitters and the brain's reward system have been implicated in exercise and other addictions. For example, dopamine has been found to play an important role in overall reward systems, and regular, excessive exercise has been shown to influence parts of the brain involving dopamine.


Like other addictive substances and behaviors, exercise is associated with pleasure, and social, cultural or sub-cultural desirability. Exercise make you feel great, look great, there is social enjoyment, so you want better yourself by doing it longer.
 

Warning Signs of Exercise Addiction

· Always working out alone, isolated from others

· Always following the same rigid exercise pattern

· Exercising for more than two hours daily, repeatedly

· Fixation on weight loss or calories burned

· Exercising when sick or injured

· Exercising to the point of pain and beyond

· Skipping work, class, or social plans for workouts
 

Physical signs of exercise addiction include fatigue, soreness and stiffness, and hormonal changes, including decreased testosterone in males and increased production of cortisol, a hormone produced in response to stress that can cause the breakdown of bone, leading to an increased risk of stress fractures and osteoporosis. Exercise addiction can also lead to muscle wasting. Behavioral signs include increased anxiety and discomfort with rest or relaxation, and an inability to stop exercising.

 

Exercise is a great way to manage stress and to address negative feelings. If your need for exercise is more often than normal, it is greater than your ability to manage your relationships and feelings, you many need help, both to overcome your basic addiction and to find healthier ways of coping.
 

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