Our priorities in life define our attitude towards different things. Each of us have our own priorities that includes good job, better scores in exams, becoming a better person in life, more money, etc. We design our day-to-day life surrounding our priorities-adjusting food timings to enable more study time or skipping the movie to get something done for the next day’s project meeting at office. People are either happy or sad with only some of them having a neutral feeling towards life taking it as it comes, living one day at a time. Their state of mind too might be a result of their priority accomplishments. As we live and days pass some lose focus on them but there are others whose priorities become an addiction. Their desire to achieve their goals quadruple and they are ready to go to any extreme to fulfill it.
For most of us addiction includes smoking or drinking but the present world is surprising us with a number of newer addictions being added to the list quite often. Gaming addiction was added sometime back and now we are into exercise addiction. Ok. I understand that you are bewildered as we live in a world intoxicated by sedentary behavior and higher obesity rates. But even if you go and re-read the sentence a hundred times the fact is going to remain unchanged. Though a source of surprise for all the lazy bums out there, exercise addiction exists as a major problem with exercise regulars.
When Habit becomes an Addiction
There have been innumerable articles reinstating the importance of physical activity and exercise. Health experts and fitness professionals keep requesting individuals to make exercising as a part of their daily routine, a habit of sorts such as brushing teeth or taking bath. There have been some who take this seriously and reap benefits. But how can a habit turn into an addiction? If we analyze, brushing teeth or having a bath are basic requirements essential for survival and failing to do can lead to foul smell or likewise. On the other hand, overperforming them is not going to make things better or improve our health. But exercise is different. Once we start realizing the benefits of exercising seeing a positive change in our health and body, we become very much in love with it. Exercise is something that showers you with added benefits when you keep performing more and more. Higher the intensity and longer the duration greater are its benefits. But as we know, too much of anything is good for nothing and exercise too is not an exclusion from this. Overstraining and pushing your limits to the core with exercising can land you in greater trouble in the form of weakened immune system, fat gain, decreased performance, fatigue, amenorrhea in women (absence of menstruation for three or more months), decreased appetite and insomnia.
Hindrance to Quality of Life
Its all good when we introduce exercise as a part of our lifestyle and reap benefits. Sometimes some people are overjoyed with its benefits that they start overperforming the activities and prolonging the schedules. It becomes their number one priority in life-they skip parties and functions, socializing becomes almost nil, they take a power walk during every office break, get up very early for some morning laps but once again perform vigorous exercise in the evening and don’t stop exercising even if they have hit the fatigue button long back.
I’ve even seen people cribbing about losing out on their day’s exercise routine even though it was due to inevitable reasons. The entire day seems to bank out on a dull note and the mood never changes until they get a chance to exercise. There are some others who try to exercise every time after they eat some processed food or even their regular meal. They are obsessed with the feeling that eating food without exercising loads them with undesirable body fat. There are people who are compelled to feel their heart race and the muscles stretch. They feel guilty staying sedentary, become anxious or even victims of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression.
Exercise can also become a way to cope with stress, beat worries, homesickness, heartaches and escape from the lingering problems at home. Exercise, an activity that’s useful for fighting against depression and anxiety can become the platform for the same when overdone; the activity that helps in weight loss can lead to fat gain when overdone; it has the power to result in anemia; can lead to overuse injuries, dehydration, anemia, a compromised immune system or even death. Even sleep patterns are affected due to exercise obsession. Many of them are irritable and experience mood swings when they are unable to exercise. Exercising beyond a stipulated limit affects the heart which stops benefiting and starts getting stressed (https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/10/18/excessive-exercise-may-harm-the-heart-study-suggests/#154fb1df7fa5).
Being promoted as a means to prolong longevity in individuals by as much as 30% exercising moderately is always recommended. But if you are working out too much you are digging your own grave of shortening your life span. Working out too much is equally bad as not working out at all (https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/working-out-too-much-as-bad-as-no-exercise-at-all-study-says-20150204-135nmo.html).
Getting Trapped with Fitness Apps
Fitness apps have been treated as a boon to keep individuals fit. But the same apps can become reasons for getting into an exercise addiction as well. Once you start performing well these apps encourage you with points, rewards and applauds which motivate you to keep doing more and better. Measurements are a way to boost your self-esteem but the same numbers can fail you when you don’t perform well-it keeps telling you that you have fallen short of the goal or the statistics are not as good as yesterday and you need to push yourself a little more. Looking at the app every day each morning brings about a fresh wave of energy to start the day with the best performance. But when this is not possible the day is ruined as per your thoughts and you feel grumpy throughout.
The intellect to realize your addiction to exercise and to take a step in the right direction is not so easy. Understanding that it has become an addiction takes time and once you realize don’t delay any further and seek help as early as possible. Exercise moderately and enjoy what you do. Never be in a haste to complete all sets, redo them and jump on to something else. Have a ‘let go’ attitude without becoming obsessed. You can’t control everything around-all that you can do is only control your emotions and responses to the situations around you.
I Was Addicted to Exercise: https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/working-out-too-much-as-bad-as-no-exercise-at-all-study-says-20150204-135nmo.html
I Was Addicted to Exercise: Here’s How to Spot the Signs: https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/working-out-too-much-as-bad-as-no-exercise-at-all-study-says-20150204-135nmo.html
When Exercise Shifts from a Healthy Habit to an Unhealthy Addiction: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/05/09/health/exercise-addiction-explainer/index.html
Beware, There’s Exercise Addiction Too: https://time.com/4686043/exercise-workout-obesity/
How Can I Break my Addiction to Exercise? https://www.theguardian.com/theobserver/2007/dec/02/features.magazine87
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