Exercise: Friend or Foe?


Exercise as one of the four pillars of a healthy life, is a wonderful tool by itself, offering great benefits like strengthening the bones and muscles, shaping the body, helping the hormonal levels etc. The zeal of those who no-matter-what stick to their routine of physical activity, it is indeed inspirational. Thankfully this category of fitness-aware people is increasing by the day.

With the entire world hooked onto fitness, & skinny models selling everything from food to clothes, to cars, to (though it’s unfitting but also) shaving creams, repeated exposure to such an environment pushes one to wish to be lean, and it’s great!…Few people are challenging their life tendencies of being couch-potatoes; others are taking up sports and doing well at them: learning a new skill & de-stress after a long day.

What is appalling is the fact that insane physiques are taking over the image of an actual healthy body, functionality doesn’t seem to be the rule now, but how one appears is all that counts, and to accomplish the same, some people resort to punishing workouts, not only hitting the gym multiple times a day, rather going through a marathon of different routines as well. Thus it seems imperative to talk about the flip side of exercising…What when exercise becomes an “Obsession”? (Yes! something like that exists, and more often than one might think).

It is not uncommon to find people who start out exercising in order to take control of their weight, bodies and life, soon find themselves entrapped in it, they no longer feel the sense of well being or the joy of workout, but simply push their bodies’ limits with an illusion of control, OR to deal with anger issues OR even to cope with low self esteem, astounding as it may appear, it’s true; their ability to perform workouts become synonymous with self esteem. Sadly though, they are absolutely oblivious to their obsession for exercise and bask in denial.

Such a condition is called Hypergymnasia/ Anorexia Athletic/ Obligatory Exercise or Exercise Addiction. The condition is most often accompanied with eating disorders.Typically the person would engage in more than two intense workouts a day, will be obsessed enough with exercise; to skip daily activities and social engagements in favor of it, and God-forbid, in-case they miss out on a workout, not only do they feel anxious; rather go on a guilt trip and are ashamed for not working out enough, the icing on the cake is that they will also have super-stringent; if at-all food intake. This significantly affects their nutrition.

Excessive, unsafe and unhealthy exercising leads to more ill than good: with stress fractures, muscle and tendon ruptures, constant fatigue, not to forget it can also create major hormonal and bone health issues.

Though these individuals may be showered with praise for their efforts, what they really need is HELP! A family doctor, nutritionist, therapist, coach, trainer or physical therapist, can help these individuals by assessing their overall health, identifying the deep rooted cause of their indulgence, creating optimum nutritional plan and teaching them how to exercise safely.

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