Compulsive training: when exercise can harm physical and mental health

Doing physical exercise helps to improve cardiorespiratory and muscular functions, to strengthen the bone part and to reduce the risk of diseases non-communicable, such as diabetes or disease cardiovascular. Nobody disputes that: reports Benefits physical Y psychological at any age.

However, it can also impair Physical Health and mental. This is the case in the case that the person does physical exercise repeatedly and frequently, without being able to control or reduce it, despite the damage it causes.

Read more: 24 minutes of physical activity per day increases life expectancy

“In the compulsion to do exercises we must distinguish three disorders in particular. One is food, which generally affects girls and leads them to exercise as if it were a ‘purge’, with the idea of ​​compensating for the amount of calories they consumed ”, explains Ricardo Pérez Rivera (MN 87,924) psychiatrist specialist in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and associated diseases.

The second disorder, in addition to eating, that causes this type of behavior is muscle dysmorphia. “People feel that their muscle mass is diminished, they exercise compulsively and extensively, they feel that their physique is not lean or muscular enough, they are in emotional distress and they hide their body with large clothes. They abuse anabolics and protein shakes without being bodybuilders ”, describes the specialist. The person feels obliged to carry out physical exercise to avoid or reduce their discomfort.

“In both eating disorders and muscle dysmorphia, people have low self-esteem and distortion with their body image,” says the psychiatrist, adding that “the most perfectionists also spend more time in the gym and there is a combination obsessive-narcissistic”.

The third disorder has to do with vigorexia, where people they worry excessively about their body image, fundamentally to develop an athletic body. “With these behaviors, what is marked is the reward circuit at the neurological level. Has the same patterns of addictive behavior. Every time they need more exercise to have the same sensation, it has the effect of the “high” that is euphoria when they are active and an effect of withdrawal and discomfort when they do not exercise, “explains Pérez Rivera.

Exercising compulsively, a behavioral addiction

All these disorders have deep cultural roots and they have worsened in recent decades, mainly due to the fact that the media and social networks advertise images of athletic and muscular people as role models.

Exercise addiction is not officially recognized as a metal disorder. But many investigations already suggest that in future editions of the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ (DSM), of the American Psychiatric Association, could be defined as a addiction behavioral, something that already happens with the game.

Similarly, the rise of endorphins Exercising can also be one of the main causes of exercise addiction. As with the effects of illegal drugs, an endorphin high can be addictive to the point where people compulsively exercise to achieve that feeling on a consistent basis.

How to overcome exercise addiction

If people have already detected that they are addicted to exercise, the steps you need to take to overcome this problem are:

  1. Consult with a specialist in training to design an adequate and healthy routine, without excesses.
  2. Start a psychological treatment. Specialists help to overcome addiction from the source of the problem. Thus the patient will understand what is happening with his image, his self-concept and will learn to exercise in a healthy, moderate and age-appropriate way.

More on physical activity

A study claims that exercise helps strengthen the brain

Physical exercise benefits the mind

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