A post by Lily McCann


It’s said that the most effective form of exercise is the type which we enjoy. Finding a sport that you can really get your teeth into and look forward to not only benefits our bodies because we’re taking part in regular exercise, but benefits our minds. Competition can be immensely healthy; it encourages pride, goal setting and achievement. However, there is a line which can be crossed where competition becomes unhealthy. Addiction to competition and exercise can become dangerous, especially when it comes to young people who can be far more susceptible to bad habits.

The dangers of exercise addiction

Becoming addicted to exercise can take a huge toll on the body, especially if you’re still young and developing, which can be into our early 20s. Putting stress on your joints and muscles can result in injuries and future joint problems. Additionally, if you’re burning more calories than your body needs to function, bone density can be directly affected and conditions such as osteoporosis can develop in later life.

Over-exercising can also result in overheating and dehydration, which, in the short term can result in fainting, cramps and fatigue, and long term can cause liver damage.

Mentally, being addicted to exercise can be exhausting as it’s all you can think about. Other aspects of your life, like relationships, family or school may suffer because exercise comes first. Body Dysmorphic Disorder may also play a role and a feeling of not being good enough will take over. This can lead the individual to other dangers. For example, Anabolic Steroid abuse amongst young people is on the rise to the pressures of society always pushing men to be more muscular. Similar to the link between society and eating disorders, implanting the notion that the thinner-the-better amongst women, men are being coaxed to grow larger and quicker than ever before. It’s important to note to anyone thinking of trying Anabolic Steroids as a means of growing, that they’re incredibly dangerous and can result in a number of health problems including infertility to prostate cancer.

How to prevent exercise addiction

Competition and setting firm goals can be great for your game whether it comes to your own routine or team sports. However, make sure you keep an eye on how rapidly you’re meeting and setting new goals. If you’re setting new goals every week or even every day and becoming obsessed with achieving them, you may be becoming addicted to exercise. If you believe you are, take a step back from exercise and see how you feel. If you’re part of a team, only take part in the mandatory regime. If you feel your relationship with exercise or competition has become unhealthy, trying a talking therapy to analyze why you’re feeling that way may be your best option.

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