Exercise Addiction Treatment

WHAT IS EXERCISE ADDICTION?

Exercise is a release. It can feel good. In moderation, exercise is a healthy and necessary pursuit but as with all addictions, in excess the ramifications can be damaging and far ranging.

Exercise can be addictive in the following ways:

  • Natural painkillers called Endorphins are released in the brain upon moderate to heavy exercise. These have a similar effect on the brain as opiates, resulting in euphoria and/or sense of wellbeing.
  • It provides a sense of achievement which releases another chemical in the brain known as Dopamine.
  • Physical fitness or athleticism can become obsessive where the individual constantly strives to beat a competitor or their own personal best.
  • Body image: According to certain cultural expectations individuals may feel pressure to look a certain way. In some cases, this may be to mask shame or insecurity whereby the person feels a compulsion to continually exercise in order to conform.

This addiction can cause harm in any number of ways, from damaged tissue, weakened joints and immune system, abuse of performance enhancing or anabolic drugs, eating disorders and damaged relationships.

Exercise addiction can be motivated by many things such as the need to escape, desire to feel good about oneself or as a coping mechanism for the challenges of life. 

It is more difficult to identify than some addictions e.g. substances, as there is no apparent or noticeable intoxication and as a result the progression can sometimes be more severe. 

Compulsive exercise may also appear less problematic to the sufferer and those that surround him/her but the consequences can be equally as destructive.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF EXERCISE ADDICTION?

The obsession or compulsion to exercise despite negative consequences is what distinguishes the addict. The need to exercise even when rest is required, relationships are strained, whilst feeling tired, sick or recovering from injury. These are all signs of an excessive abnormal pattern.

Withdrawal is an easily identifiable aspect of this addiction. The inability to exercise (or some interruption resulting in an incomplete workout) can result in rage, panic, apathy, low mood, restlessness and feelings of guilt.

HOW CAN THE CAMINO RECOVERY CENTRE HELP?

A variety of therapeutic interventions have proven useful in the battle against compulsivity. 

Although there is no panacea, there are a number of tried and tested techniques which, when used in combination, achieve positive results.

Call us now for a no obligation conversation with one of our experts.

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