Thursday, July 10, 2014

Are You an Exercise Addict?

My on-line acquaintance Ella M (who provided me with some Ridiculous Laws fodder for this post from a couple weeks back), also did a good piece about Exercise Addiction, here

You should read the whole article, but here were a couple of paragraphs early on that resonated with me:

There are several signs and symptoms of exercise addiction. One of the strongest signs that someone has an exercise addiction is an inability to concentrate on other things because he or she is always thinking about exercise. Some people with this disorder skip classes or take unpaid time off from work to exercise, which interferes with their education and reduces their income. Exercise addiction makes it difficult to carry on a satisfying social life, as people with this disorder often skip special events and activities in order to exercise. Even exercising with other people is difficult, as compulsive exercisers do not like to have their routines disturbed. They would rather exercise on their own so they can control the components and timing of the exercise session.

Exercise addiction stirs several emotions when a person is unable to exercise. Without exercising, a person may feel angry, guilty, or anxious. These feelings may also occur when a compulsive exerciser experiences a disruption in his or her exercise routine. Exercise addiction sometimes accompanies obsessive behaviors surrounding the issues of food and weight, as some exercise addicts work out excessively as a way to control their weight or body fat percentages. They may exercise to punish themselves for eating high-calorie or high-fat foods. When an exercise addict is unable to exercise, he or she may purge calories or implement excessive calorie restrictions.

My personal experiences with Ultrarunning have been largely positive, or at the worst, benign. However...I know some long distance runners who collectively embody virtually every negative effect that Ella mentions in her article. They may be physically fit (or not, depending on how much they overdo the sport, because we Ultrarunners tend to be overdoers), but mentally and emotionally they are not much fun to be around. They tend to hijack very conversation and make it about them and their experiences. 

Sounds like chronic exercise addicts may well need professional help to get their compulsions under control. No shame here, I've sought professional help for other issues and highly endorse it. You just can't be an expert on everything, and especially in the realm of mental health, I figure you may as well try getting help from a pro. 

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