Exercise Dependence Syndrome

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How much exercise is enough? When does exercise become a disruptive factor in our lives? Sport psychologists have been examining these questions for decades regarding athletes but not until recently has their been attention paid to the regular exerciser at the local gym or health club. Exercise Dependence Syndrome occurs when working out at the gym becomes the primary factor in your life. As a result, things like family, personal relationships, and even your job suffers. People with exercise dependence syndrome often experience withdrawal symptoms within 24-48 hours when not exercising. These symptoms may include such things as nervousness, irritability, anxiousness, and restlessness. The anxiety associated with Exercise Dependence Syndrome can be extremely difficult to manage for some people. Ask yourself some of the following questions to determine whether or not you have Exercise Dependence Syndrome.

1. Do you exercise to avoid other things in your life?
2. Is exercise the most important thing in your life?
3. Do you use exercise to control your mood?
4. Have you tried to cut back on exercise and failed?
5. Do you “make up” for missed exercise sessions?
6. You base your exercise sessions around food intake?

If you answered YES to many of these questions you may want to take a step back and assess your exercise priorities. Physical inactivity associated with Sedentary Death Syndrome (SEDS) is the second leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Don’t get me wrong, most people need to exercise on a daily basis. However, when exercise becomes addictive and takes over other areas of your life its time to reevaluate your overall exercise program and it’s primary objectives. To be considered “healthy” one must follow the wellness model. This model emphasizes the importance of good physical stature but not at the expense of your intellectual, emotional, and social health and well-being.

Sports Medicine Professor
Keiser University
College of Golf and Sport Management

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