image by: Gold's Gym (Brassfield, Greensboro, NC)
“Hey hun, have you seen my sneakers… the orange ones?”
My husband looked up from his phone and around the room. He located a pair of mismatched socks, flip-flops, my navy-blue Adidas, and a half-open umbrella, but my traffic cone-colored kicks were missing. I don’t have time for this, I thought. With a newborn, my day revolves around playtime, bedtime, feedings, and naps. Plus, the National Weather Service had just issued a warning: the air quality was crap and, according to my app, both heat stroke and exhaustion were possible. I slid my neoprene shorts on, one unshaven leg at a time. I downed a glass of lukewarm water, and I grabbed my keys, iPhone and headphones before lacing up…
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We might assume a person that goes to the gym every day is “addicted” to exercise. But in reality, exercise addiction is a complicated condition that researchers still don’t fully understand.
Katherine Schreiber shares her story—plus, get to know the signs and symptoms of this surprisingly common disorder.
Among the array of addictions, exercise may be unique in one respect: It's almost universally viewed as virtuous. Drink or smoke too much, and friends start to worry. Exercise too much, and everyone envies your dedication, which means it's easy to conceal the problem—even from yourself.
Exercise addiction is more than a love of sport or a craving for the endorphin release associated with intense physical exercise. It is the manifestation of mental illness. The following factors can help explain how exercise addiction can become grooved in an individual’s life, but they alone are not the causes.
But for me, exercise has become a drug. It is a way to cope with everything else going on and numb out the pain I might feel, and it truly is an addiction, one I cancel plans over just to get my fix.
“Exercise addicts display all of the hallmarks of substance addicts: tolerance, craving, withdrawal and the need to exercise ‘just to feel normal,’
Over-exercisers also suffer from classic signs of addiction such as withdrawal and relapse, which are well known among drug addicts and alcoholics.
When healthy becomes harmful.
I’ve already been to hot yoga early this morning and worked out for the last eight days in a row. Even so, I had to come this evening.
Why? Because I’m addicted. I am an exercise addict. This means I’m hooked on endorphins.
Let’s not beat around the fitness bush here. There’s no denying I’m legitimately addicted to exercise. Yet few people (myself included) fully understand this "healthy" mania that researchers estimate affects 0.3 to 0.5 percent of the population.
There’s nothing wrong with the watch or the strap – both are in perfect condition. But my HRM is a reminder of a bad time in my life, when lived at the gym and I was obsessed with exercise.
When did my exercise habit become a habitual exercise in tracking? Much has been written about the “social fitness” apps turning fun activities into cutthroat virtual competitions...
For a long time, my doctors saw only a healthy person who exercised. But I had to learn to be honest with myself about how running was running my life.
Exercise addiction is a legitimate problem whose prevalence is thought to be highest amongst triathletes, runners, and individuals who suffer from eating disordersvii.