Skip to content
Home » Overcoming ‘Exercise Addiction’│Feeling Anxious Without Daily Exercise?

Overcoming ‘Exercise Addiction’│Feeling Anxious Without Daily Exercise?

  • Life


1. Recognizing Exercise Addiction

The growing focus on quality of life and
health has led to an increase in individuals who compulsively exercise.
However, if one feels the need to visit the gym or exercise daily, and
experiences anxiety or irritability when unable to exercise, it’s important to
consider the possibility of ‘exercise addiction’.

2. Causes and Effects of Exercise

Exercise addiction refers to an
obsessive state of exercising beyond one’s physical limits or to a degree that
disrupts daily life. It is attributed to ‘beta-endorphins’ released in the
brain during exercise. Beta-endorphins, which are 40 to 200 times more potent
than painkillers, create a euphoria similar to that of narcotics. When
beta-endorphins are released, even as physical exhaustion sets in, they can
drive continued exercise, ignoring bodily pain. This often leads to an
inability to stop exercising, resulting in addiction. According to a study
published in the British Medical Journal, one in ten people who exercise
vigorously suffer from exercise addiction.

3. Identifying Exercise Addiction

Signs of exercise addiction include:
exercise being the most dominant activity in one’s daily routine, feeling
anxious or irritable when unable to exercise, continuing strenuous exercise
despite severe pain, needing to exercise more than usual for satisfaction,
feeling extreme guilt when not exercising, and experiencing disruptions in
daily life and relationships due to exercise.

4. Health Risks Associated with Exercise

Suffering from exercise addiction can
lead to early onset degenerative arthritis due to excessive exercise causing
cartilage damage. For example, while squats can improve lower body strength and
blood circulation, doing them excessively or with incorrect posture can impact
knee joints. Continuing to exercise without addressing such damage can lead to
degenerative arthritis at a young age. Additionally, constant stress on muscles
and joints can lead to fractures. Excessive protein intake for muscle building,
common in those with exercise addiction, can also strain the kidneys and lead
to uremia—a condition where 90% of kidney function is irreversibly damaged,
preventing the body from expelling excess fluids and waste. Increased
production and excretion of urea, a nitrogenous waste, also burden the kidneys,
heightening the risk of disease.

5. Treating Exercise Addiction

Exercise addiction can be treated in
psychiatric medicine through interviews and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Initially, it involves the patient recognizing their condition and
collaborating with a doctor to find suitable control methods.

6. Prevention Strategies for Exercise

Rather than completely ceasing exercise,
a limited duration like one hour per day is often recommended. To prevent
exercise addiction, it’s beneficial to assess whether the current exercise
regimen is suitable, at an appropriate intensity, and not causing physical