There’s no argument that exercise is vital to health. The benefits we reap from exercising are all backed up with scientific evidence confirming weight loss, promotes sleep, enhance sex life, prevents and combats illnesses and diseases, boost energy, and improves mood among others. However, there are health buffs who are engaging in too much exercise and physical fitness that it is turning to become an obsession and unhealthy. So, the question is, how can something that is good and healthy turn into an addictive behavior and can affect one’s mental health? How would you know if you are over doing it?
What to look for?
Because exercise presents many advantages, it is difficult to determine if a person is having an obsession or addiction towards getting fit. One clear indicator is the time spent in the gym or any physical fitness centers. Doctors recommend spending at least at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. Beyond that is already not normal.
There are other factors to review if you are at risk or already have an exercise addiction. The Exercise Dependence Scale (EDS) developed by Heather Hausenblas, Ph.D., and Danielle Symons, Ph.D., both exercise psychologists, will assess and evaluate if a person is leading to exercise addiction.
The Exercise Dependence Scale
The following are the seven factors of EDS:
- Tolerance: The person increases the exercise or training power to achieve the effects of physical fitness. Initially, exercise regimen is done
- Withdrawal: If the person does not engage in exercising, he undergoes withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, fatigue or feeling heavy, tension and increased agitation.
- Lack of control: The person can no longer control the duration and intensity of exercise.
- “Intention Effect”: Spending time in the gym beyond on what is the intended time. For example, you decided to just finish an hour but extended further after the intended time.
- “Time Spent”: If you involve or incorporate fitness-related activities into your 24-hour schedule. It’s no longer ideal to exercise 3 times a day and get on a treadmill before going to sleep.
- Reduction of Other Pursuits: The person much prefer to go to the gym than attending a social event or there are no other activities that interest him/her but only exercise. This also includes canceling plans or showing up late for work in order to exercise longer.
- Continuance Despite Injury: Even if with ailment or injury, there’s no stopping this person in going to the gym.
Too much of anything is not healthy. This is the general rule that we have to remember. Everything must be done in moderation in order to achieve its optimal effects. We do have a great body image but if our relationships, career, mental and physical wellness are compromised, it is time to consult a professional therapist and seek help.