Home > Common Addictions > Beating an Addiction to Exercise

Beating an Addiction to Exercise

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 7 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Exercise; Routine; Punnishing;

Exercise occurs when the individual places most of their emphasis on the exercise routines. The thought of missing a session or spending time on other activities becomes frustrating and disappointing even to the point of becoming angry. Exercise addiction becomes the focal point of everyday life coming before family, friends and employment. It is often associated with eating disorders as weight and calories become an issue.

How Does It Happen?

It is a rare disorder but can occur as people find themselves achieving a ‘high’ after exercising. This grows into feelings of self appreciation when completing a punishing regime. The feeling of euphoria gradually becomes less and less until the routine becomes a gruelling task that MUST be achieved to gain satisfaction.

Exercise addiction is becoming increasingly accepted as a legitimate addiction and experts are finding convincing research indicating that the effects on the brain are very similar to those experienced by sufferers of substance addiction.

Beating The Addiction

As with all addictions, motivation and determination are key to achieving success.

Keep a strict diary to see when exercise is taken; it helps to see it in black and white how much exercise is being done.Decide on activities to fill your spare time and STICK to them.

It is very difficult to overcome any addiction without some external help so seek counselling if needed, also speak to your GP about managing depression and anxiety. Giving-up an addiction can cause feelings similar to bereavement.

Try deep relaxation or meditation for helping manage stress. This will also help to control breathing and regulate the heart rate and manage anxieties caused by giving-up your addiction.

Try amending your exercise routine to other unfamiliar activities such as yoga or pilates; these are less demanding exercises that will also help introduce you back into a social circle.

Take every day individually and congratulate yourself for each day that you have control over your exercise regime.

Distance yourself from like-minded individuals who may be unsupportive and want you to continue training.

Set realistic goals and reward yourself every time you achieve one.

Do not weigh yourself more often than once or twice a month.

Re-educate your mind to issues of pain; pain exists to tell us something is wrong. Most injuries are exacerbated by heavy exercising; most exercise addicts ignore their pain.

Take walks in the fresh air, borrow a friends dog or children so running is not optional. Make these occasions pleasurable and educational, stopping to take photos, draw pictures or discuss nature. This is a perfect way of keeping fit and enjoying quality time.

Talk to your Gym and find out about other classes or team sports you can play when you have overcome your addiction. This way, efforts are limited and training is done at set times as a team. This is also good for your social life.

Taking the Addiction to Exercise Seriously

Exercise addiction can be as worrying a problem as substance abuse and should be taken just as seriously. Severe injuries can result from over-exercising as most sufferers punish themselves for experiencing pain and work thorough it and ignore it.

As with all addictions, therapy from a qualified professional may be the most beneficial option if self-help measures are failing.

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