Mental health and physical exercise.

Photo by Marcin Bogucki

Hello Again,

Today, I will be talking about

Possible addiction in physical exercises

Just to remind you,

All information that you find here is from my counselling practice experience and educational material from continued professional development.

OK, Let’s started

What are physical exercises?

From the dawn of time, we know that physical exercise, more generally sport, improves the condition of the body and its mind. According to the principle of “A sound mind in a sound body”. Recommended several-minute stretching or morning gymnastics has a fruitful effect on our well-being and physical condition. This fact has already been described in many fields of science, including the sciences of psychology and psychiatry. All exercises, including physical therapy, various yoga sets, and other relaxation exercises, mix with each other to form a team that improves the physical and spiritual body. Walking, cycling and hiking are also a form of exercise and relaxation.

When exercise becomes an obsession.

Standard trips to the gym or dancing are for many of us a breakthrough from everyday life, practising yoga and meditation also allows us to maintain better fitness and to get to know the deeper spheres of our consciousness. And here nothing seems to change, we exercise regularly, and if we forget about our training once or twice, nothing will happen either. The situation changes, however, when we even have to exercise for several hours every day and every day without gym or aerobics is a wasted day. In such a situation, one should look at our habits if we have not fallen into obsessive attending to gyms and compulsive care of our own body. Even though scientists have proven that exercise addiction has completely or at least different and less complicated side effects for practitioners, our relaxing moments are long gone, and we’ve plunged into something more complicated than just regular exercise sets. Our obsession with exercise turns into a ritual called exercise addiction, dependence on them or compulsion to perform them in fear and a sense of fear if we do not do them.

Learning about exercise addiction.

To give credibility to the meaning of my earlier speech, I will quote here from an article by the aforementioned author, “In Glaser’s opinion, very intense,” excessive “exercise brings about an improvement in well-being and has beneficial consequences for the individual, as opposed to addiction to chemical substances.”

And as I said, it is extremely beneficial for our body and we should not give up exercise, which improves our body and protects us from many diseases, such as caused by overeating or office work, when we spend all day sitting in front of the computer. However, when we can not stop exercising anymore and our desire to get out, even for a moment to the gym or the dance floor, the same symptoms appear as in people addicted to chemicals (alcohol and drugs).

“Withdrawal symptoms from non-exercise situations, such as pain or guilt, were treated by him as a consequence of deprivation of pleasure and altered state of consciousness.”

As can be seen, such a phenomenon has been studied by many specialists with the same result. When our behaviours are so dysfunctional that our daily duties, such as taking care of the house and family, are turned into physical activity, it is already an addiction. Doing exercise despite injuries or doctor’s orders to refrain from any activity, we still follow our ego, it is an addiction. If we can’t help ourselves and reduce everything to exercise, it’s an addiction. Other addiction states include

“Anxiety, guilt, nervousness, discomfort and irritability were important characteristics of exercise dependence. They occurred 24 to 36 hours after I stopped running and had both physiological and psychological components. “

In addition, the intensity as well as the time and weight required have also been challenged, and just as an individual addicted to stimulants increases their intake, and a person addicted to exercise is no longer satisfied and euphoric with the same exercise program as a month ago.

Despite the fact that this behaviour called exercise addiction has not been diagnosed in a clinical sense, neither in OCD and DSM the facts and research speak for themselves, although the number of addicts to physical activity is difficult to quantify, our behaviour confirms our belief that our daily workouts are not just morning gymnastics. Going further, such behaviour can be treated using psychotherapy, where we often find out through the therapeutic process what is the cause of excessive physical activity or what causes it.

It is worth mentioning the main aspect of such behaviours as, for example, the Eating Disorder, which is already documented in the DSM, despite the fact that opinions are divided. 

Some researchers argue that excessive exercise does not worsen health, although it does help with disorders of this type. The other side, however, postulates that despite the lack of physical negative changes in the body to effort, not counting injuries, there is a psycho-pathological aspect when intensive training is interrupted, problems arise the same as with discontinuation of psychoactive substances, and thus logic concludes. : that if my exercises were aimed at maintaining the same weight, people with an eating disorder, in this case of anorexia, cause vomiting to get rid of food that has not been digested or turned into energy during exercise, starvations can also occur here, such as and excessive training and exercise after returning to exercise.

What causes such an addiction?

We know from the work of researchers that beta-endorphins are responsible for such a state, which are at different levels in a given individual, but also here research is inconsistent and leads to the exploration of this issue. Although it can be concluded from logic that exercise raises the state of euphoria in an individual, and the lack of it causes depression and drug or lowering the state of “cheerfulness”, which leads to sometimes forced return to exercise in order to regain this state of euphoria and joy with life. Following the path of cognitive-behavioural psychology, thoughts and feelings will be responsible for the intensity of such behaviours, which as if impose states of behaviour on the individual. Such behaviour confirms the individual that he will quote here as well “

“Exercise is a distraction from everyday troubles; they also emphasise the benefits of social contact during physical activities. Physical exercise can provide a positive self-image enhancement and increase the sense of competence and mastery

In conclusion, for it to occur, addiction to physical exercise must consist of several components: the negative aspect, such as distress, and the positive aspect, which provides pleasure, the percentage or number of people struggling with this type of addiction is still not easy to determine, and prophylactic exercise, even if it could appear excessive, they will be quickly neutralised by the individual and his defence mechanisms, physical exercise brings us more pleasure and positive aspects in life than the negative ones, so if such activity is not the main activity during the day, we have nothing to fear.

I just gave some examples of where psychotherapy may take place. Follow my next articles if you have any interest in this topic or just write to me.

Thank you for listening and see you soon.

My name is Marcin Bogucki on Private Psychotherapy Practice with Remote Counselling.

If you would like to book an appointment please use the details below.

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Published by Marcin Bogucki

Counselling & Psychotherapy for both English and Polish speakers.

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