Well done to the BMJ for publishing this very interesting article on a subject that is rarely discussed. I would certainly like to see more research done in this area. However, the subject is not new, I remember addiction to exercise and being able to detect it being part of my athletics coaching courses during the 1980s. I have heard very little since so it is good to see it being discussed here.
I am, and have been, an enthusiastic runner for about 40 years, generally running 6 days a week. Am I addicted to running? I don’t think so but when I completed the Exercise Addiction Inventory screening tool I scored 23 out of 30, which is borderline between ‘potentially symptomatic’ and ‘at risk for exercise addiction who should be referred to a specialist’. I’m sure this will be a concern to many amateur runners like myself who will fall into this category.
While I agree with most of the points made in the article I disagree that high volume exercisers (as opposed to exercise addicts) do not suffer from emotional, social or occupational disruptions. In fact, it is difficult to train at high volume without those sorts of disruptions. The key point is being able to control these disruptions and not let them get out of hand. Quite often this needs a third party, usually a member of the family or a coach, to spot any disruptions and this should be addressed as part of the consultation.
This shows good progress in the subject of exercise addiction and should be developed further. I would suggest involving athletes and coaches in the next stage and perhaps a refinement of the screening tools to improve assessment.
Competing interests: No competing interests