Why Is Training So Addictive?
What makes physical exercise and strength training so addictive?
Have you ever felt that rush of energy mid-way through your workout, or that "runner's high" you get after finishing a tough course? It's an exhilarating feeling that will lift your spirits and make you feel so happy.
That is the result of the endorphins flooding your body. Endorphins are a sort of feel-good chemical that helps to dull pain, increases your tolerance for strain, block anxiety and stress, and can even give you a euphoric feeling -- kind of like a mild high. That euphoric feeling is what has led so many people to alcohol, drugs, and other addictions.
But the truth is that most people only crave that endorphin rush when there is something else going on in their lives. Perhaps they are depressed, lonely or insecure, have mental or emotional difficulties or psychological trauma. Body image problems can lead people to spend too much time in the gym, training their body. It's the same problem as anorexia and bulimia, only with a different way of trying to correct the body image issues.
For those who struggle with feeling like their life is out of control, training can be a way to "take control" back in their lives. They may have problems at work or at home, and the gym is the only place where they can feel safe and in control. They end up spending too much time working out just because they don't want to leave that environment.
Signs You May be Addicted
How can you tell if you have an addiction to training?
- You are always thirsty, and no amount of water can quench that thirst.
- Your muscles are always sore, even after 48 to 72 hours of rest.
- You get sick very easily.
- You suffer from depression and/or insomnia.
- Your personality has changed noticeably.
- You have a hard time focusing on your workout, and you spend more time talking than actually training.
- You have a reduced desire to train.
- You have plateaued and you are no longer making gains.
- You tend to get injured much more easily and more often.
- Your self-esteem is tied to your training and your appearance.
- You no longer hang out with friends or family, and you are socially isolated.
- You feel anxious if you miss a workout.
What Can You Do?
Dealing with your addiction to overtraining is just like dealing with any other addiction.
Cut back on the amount of training you do--keep it to healthy, normal limits.
Seek professional help and counseling for the problems that are causing you to overtrain.
Take a break from training and give your body a rest.
Try a new type of workout, one that won't allow you to overtrain.
Dealing with this addiction can be as tough as dealing with any addiction, but it's essential that you get over whatever is causing you to overtrain. If you don't, you could do serious damage to your body in the long run.
Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise -- he does so six days a week -- and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.