Getting regular exercise is an important part of staying healthy. Benefits of physical activity include calorie burning, which can help you lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight, and also can help prevent and manage an array of other health conditions including but not limited to diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, as well as your risk of falls and injuries that can occur as a result (such as sprains and bone fractures/breaks.) Exercise can also stimulate the chemicals in your brain which can help improve cognitive function as well as decrease feelings of stress and anxiety, leaving you feeling happier; as well as improve your energy level and even promote better sleep. In order to reap these benefits, it is recommended that we get at least 75 to 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity each week, such as walking, running, or swimming – while you should also include strength straining in your fitness routine at least twice a week, such as lifting free weights or using weight machines.
That being said, there’s also such a thing as getting too much exercise – also known as burnout – which can even happen as a result of other things, like being overworked at your job. When you suffer from burnout as a result of overexerting yourself with physical activity, you can experience a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, poor concentration, headache, and other flu-like symptoms; while it’s also possible to experience body aches and pains (i.e. sore muscles and joints), and an increased risk of sprains and fractures, as well as an increase in stress – and sometimes, those physical and mental effects can be long-lasting. When you start to develop these symptoms as a result of your exercise routine, it’s possible that you may have an exercise addiction. One way to determine whether or not you might be considered an exercise addict is to ask yourself if you organize your exercise routine around your life, or if you instead organize your life around your exercise routine. See: Self.com’s ’10 Common Signs of Exercise Addiction You Should Know’.
Your life can also take a major hit in many other aspects as a result of being addicted to exercise. For example, the focus may also be on food and you may be someone who eats one meal per day or the same meals every day, not leaving much room for variety – and may also pay close attention to how much you’re eating, by measuring things or watching your caloric intake. As well, your personal life will also likely be affected. You won’t find time for relationships – for example, marriages may fail (resulting in separation or divorce), friendships will end, you’ll slowly cut back from attending social functions, and may even go to bed early at night and set your alarm to wake up early in the morning so that you can get up and go to the gym or for a walk/run. While having certain expectations and being a high achiever isn’t necessarily a bad thing in other areas of your life, being locked into this type of regimen to the point where it becomes an obsession (meaning it’s the only thing you think about most of the time) is when it stops becoming healthy.
As for what triggers exercise addiction, there are many reasons. Society, in part, plays one role. When we see (and this applies to the younger generation, especially) certain images of what’s considered the “perfect” body in magazines, on television, or on social media, we often wonder why we don’t look that way and what we can do to achieve it, without realizing that there are other factors that go into why someone – such as a celebrity – looks the way they do. Airbrushing, for example, is one method used by photographers to help give something (or someone) that picture-perfect look. Celebrities also have access to things that many may not have readily available at their fingertips, such as personal trainers, chefs, and makeup artists. Having that desire to look perfect, however, is ultimately also what triggers the desire for physical fitness. This can also be a trigger for the development of eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, or body dysmorphic disorders, which can also all cause an unhealthy obsession with exercise.
Because exercise addiction is often underreported, it is also a difficult thing to treat. Which is why, in many cases, it’s all about self-control. First and foremost, you need to be able to acknowledge you have a problem. Once you have done that, you will be able to take the necessary steps you need to take and control your exercise activity, which can include moderating your current workout plan or switching to different types of exercise. If you think you are someone who might have an addiction to exercise, you should always reach out to your physician and talk to them about what you can do to prevent it from getting out of control.