Exercise can become an addiction. A neurochemical called dopamine supports addictive behavior. It provides a short-term reward by making you feel good. This encourages actions that would help your genes pass on to the next generation. This meant going after sex, food, and novelty. It meant taking risks. Unfortunately, this primitive adaptation evolved during an earlier era.
In today’s world, it drives us toward fake calorie-laden foods with high fat and sugar. It drives us to view porn. You can meet countless attractive but false mates. It causes us to play video games that have us achieving just a little more always. The environment regulated this because opportunities were scarce. Dense food and numerous sex partners were limited. Binging allowed us to seize rare chances. Everything has changed. Opportunities to pursue the pleasure associated with these desires have grown greatly. Our brains have not prepared.
Although we usually think of drugs alone as addictive, behaviors spiking dopamine rank just as seriously. Food and sex drives can feel as addicting as any drug. This happens because these reflect the original rewards in nature we prized. Drugs just exploit brain pathways. Unfortunately, dopamine fuels the need to seek these out regardless of how it affects us. This does not consider the final result. It ignores the good sense provided by the frontal cortex of the brain. People with addictions therefore often regret their choices. Nonetheless, they fuel a cycle of the disease acting as the cure. This drives them deeper into despair.
The need for exercise stems from the better odds for survival that comes with greater fitness. Being in shape could save your life. It would allow you to hunt and protect your family. Aerobic fitness is essential to health. Developing it provides unique benefits. The problem arises when people do much more than they need to feel a high. They grow sensitized to lower amounts of exercise. They demand more. This adds to the time invested. It goes beyond that which brings about health and fitness. Since traditional, long, and steady aerobic exercise feels easy, the body’s aversion to overdoing it does not come into play. This also can lead to overuse injuries. It is inefficient for fitness and quality of life.
Stubborn brain patterns form that make urges to train hard to control. Trainees obsessed with fitness reduce their involvement in other activities that meant more to them in the past. This often means neglecting family and friends. They grow numb to everyday tasks. Those involving patience and hard work that eventually bring lasting happiness falter.
Exercise is Stress
Exercise is catabolic. This means that it breaks down tissue. It acts as stress. This then can stimulate progress, but only with enough recovery. Excessive work does not allow this process by using up resources. Many people will not pursue hard exercise for some time afterward. This allows time for recovery. Intensity is the most important variable. Think of working hard lifting weights or with high intensity interval training. The body understands the need to recover from intensity. You choose to rest when exhausted. Hard exercise usually self-regulates itself.
Consider yourself addicted if you…
- Feel a compulsion to exercise.
- Exercise in spite of adverse consequences.
- Have an inability to control exercise duration.
- Feel a psychological or physical craving for exercise.
Aerobic fitness forms only a single fitness component. Having a good body composition that includes muscle ranks highly. Muscular strength along with enough flexibility matters too. Satisfy the need and make it worth it at the same time. Intervals provide an efficient way to develop endurance. If you truly exercise for the right reasons, you need to eventually make it hard, not longer.
Do not take this the wrong way. You can enjoy a long walk even for an hour or more, though I would suggest against this too often. Those new to fitness can especially benefit from longer duration. It can provide stress relief, active rest, and benefits with circulation to name a few. When aerobics requires a time commitment beyond a reasonable length though, you should view it as an addiction.
You may even have withdrawal symptoms as you cease this volume. Replace it with more intense exercise and rest. Pursue things you enjoy to occupy your mind. You may struggle to do this initially. The challenge takes place for any addiction. This occurs as you desire the rush. You must resist. Things will improve. Lapses may happen, but you can overcome them.
Marathoners may act as the worst offenders. They achieve an admirable feat, but nonetheless put their health at risk. That volume of exercise harms the body. This applies equally on the strength end of the fitness spectrum. Powerlifters bulk up to handle the heaviest poundage. This harms their health from the excess bodyweight. Feeling fit and healthy, and in most cases becoming a better athlete, usually means striking a balance across fitness components. Specialization can still occur safely.
Avoid Addiction and Seek Health and Fitness
You must learn the principles in such a constant way that whenever your desires, appetites, and fears awake like barking dogs, the logos will speak like the voice of the master who silences his dogs with a single cry.
Exercise is a requirement for living a fulfilling life. Excessive anything will ruin your life though. This may appear as unusual advice coming from a personal trainer, but any exercise beyond what you need is not only wasted, but counterproductive. Unfortunately since exercise has a positive perception, people seem more forgiving of too much exercise. Those affected may disguise it as healthy.
Take the long-term approach of dealing with problems through planning. Avoid giving in to cravings to wish away tough issues. Addictions make you feel good now. They destroy your life in the long-run. Doing too much exercise makes you no better than the drug addict that many people unfairly despise. They simply went down a path that can grow very difficult to end.
Developing self-discipline to resist urges and devoting yourself to tasks requiring planning will better your life. Mental health will improve with a sensible exercise program. Most successful people regularly exercise. The most successful people also have learned to use their time wisely. This means avoiding the urge to indulge. Include aerobic exercise, but don’t allow it to become an addiction.