Addiction. That’s what I want to talk about today. And don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a Talk to FRANK sort of lecture. Some people are addicted to alcohol, some people are addicted to gambling, and others are addicted to the gym. You might justify that as being a ‘healthy addiction’. But is any addiction ever healthy?
I’m not going to sit here and say that exercise addiction is any better than alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling problems for obvious reasons. Humans can be addicted to almost anything and every addiction will have a unique impact on anyone’s life. So the last thing I am going to do is to say that any addiction is better than another. Now that I have made that important point, let’s get into it.
As with most addictions, there is a fine line between enjoyment and abuse. We get addicted to the things that we like to do, at least in the beginning. So the first indication that your passion might be becoming a problem could be that you just aren’t enjoying it anymore. If you are exercising because you wouldn’t be able to function normally without it then that should tell you that you might have gone too far.
The obvious point that is frequently made is that this surely isn’t doing any harm. We know that exercise is a positive thing. It helps improve our quality of life, allows us to live longer and it puts us in a better mood. And part of that is true. We could all probably sit and list twenty or thirty benefits of conducting regular exercise. I don’t think we could do the same for regularly getting drunk or smoking though.
But is that the point? Okay, I will accept that you aren’t on an almost inevitable road to premature death like you are with alcoholism or smoking addiction. That is just the physical side of an addiction though. Look at gamblers, they aren’t killing themselves but we would all agree they are causing themselves harm. Of course exercise addiction does have some physical issues though; the breakdown of joints in later life being an obvious one.
Reading back what I have written so far you could be forgiven for thinking that I am trying to discourage people from joining a gym, or even exercising! Nothing could be further from the truth. Most regular exercisers will live out their entire life completely normally. Exercise will be as regular as brushing your teeth or having a shower and there won’t be any negative effects whatsoever. The point I am making is that isn’t the case for everyone.
And it isn’t just exercise addiction that will have an impact on your overall health and well being. Some of the other addictions I have mentioned can play a part too. If you are a smoker then you aren’t going to be able to perform at the same level in the gym as a non-smoker. The same can be said of heavy drinkers.
Then you have the flip side. Studies into food addiction have been more regular and more discussed in recent years. A human being with an addictive personality can channel that addictive nature into anything given the opportunity. So whether it is a subconscious act, or you are eating because of difficult circumstances in your personal life, it is still an addiction.
My guess is that most of us could think of something that we are addicted too, even if it is only slightly. That doesn’t make us bad people and it doesn’t mean that we are causing ourselves irreparable harm. And if you live in the gym it is perfectly fine to concede that you have an addiction. The problem that people have is with the word.
No addiction should be left to get out of hand. So if you are reading this and you know that you are a gym addict then don’t think that I am telling you to go seek treatment. Just know that you can manage it like any addiction and use that enthusiasm that you have for exercise to ensure you achieve the best results!
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