How much is too much?

  • Lachmi Deb Roy
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Health Many people who suffer from exercise addiction are in a state of denial, say doctors

Striking a balanceOverdose of exercise can have adverse effect on healthPhoto: K.R. Deepak
Striking a balanceOverdose of exercise can have adverse effect on healthPhoto: K.R. Deepak

Exercise addiction can be as harmful as taking a cigarette break or hitting the bottle. It starts when a person becomes obsessive about looking good. Since everyone in today’s society, whether young or middle-aged, is pressured to look good, we feel we have no option but to hit the gym and work out frantically. Psychologist Dr. Aruna Joshi says we hear plenty about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, but very little about exercise addiction. “Actually there are many suffering from this addiction and they are all in a state of denial,” she says. “They don’t even realize that their family life and work life is getting affected. We need to accept the fact that exercise addiction is a disorder.”

In big cities the obsession is more common and Vizag is fast catching up in this trend. It affects mostly people 30 to 60 years old, who are afraid of aging, says Dr. Joshi. “They don’t want a single bit of flesh to hang out from anywhere. They just want to look perfect and in this mad race they are running on the treadmill for hours and jogging for miles together,” she adds.

Exercise gives an addict a high, but eventually they ruin their health. General Physician Dr. Subrato Roy says, “Too much of anything is injurious for health and the same goes for exercise. Excessive exercise can make your bones brittle and bring down your immunity too. Too much of weight training can lead to muscle pulls and rupture of ligaments. For women it can affect the menstrual cycle as well.”

Deanne Pandey, a fitness expert from Mumbai, says, “No matter how many hours you spend in the gym, your body will not respond to exercise beyond 45 minutes. By over-exercising you will end up harming your body.”

Exercise addiction is similar to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia and it needs to be treated by a psychologist. Exercise addicts are emotionally consumed by the thought that they are not doing enough and hence they need to push themselves harder.

The fitness schedule of exercise addicts can affect their social and family life as well. Says Deepika Deshmukh, a home-maker, “One year back, I got influenced by fitness freak friends and used to exercise for five hours a day. I wanted a perfect hourglass figure like them. My house work kept piling up and I kept ignoring everything including my daughters and husband.” It was a question from her younger daughter that brought her to her senses, Deepika recalls. “She said that whether I was willing to come for her annual day or will I be busy with my exercise session in the evening. This question made me feel guilty and I gave up over-exercising. Now I exercise for only an hour four days a week and I am not fat and neither am I stick thin the way I used to be, but I am happy about the way I look.”

Lachmi Deb Roy




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