Intended for healthcare professionals

Student Life

Drugs, booze, fags…and exercise?

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 01 July 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:0407296
  1. Anna Ellis, final year medical student1,
  2. Tiago Villanueva, Clegg scholar2
  1. 1University of Sheffield
  2. 2BMJ

Regular exercise is key to a healthy lifestyle and makes you feel good. But what happens when that enjoyment loses all perspective and becomes a dependence? Anna Ellis and Tiago Villanueva consider the alarming consequences

Exercising can be called addictive when it takes over your life. According to the BBC's One Life website, tell tale signs include getting depressed or irritable when you cannot exercise, feeling that your job or relationships get in the way of exercise, and ignoring your friends' and family's concerns. Continuing to pound the pavement when injured or ill means exercise is likely to have become a compulsion.1

You cannot look at one person's exercise regime and diagnose them as doing too much. But by definition the situation is thought to be a dependence once exercise starts taking control of a person's life.2

Defining what gives one person a sense of wellbeing and what causes the other harm is difficult. But if a person has recurrent injuries, severe menstrual irregularities, or drops well below the ideal weight, there might be problem.

Why do people become addicted to sport?

Eneko Larumbe Zabala, a Spanish sport psychologist and editor of the Spanish publication Revista de Actualidad de la Psicologia del Deporte, says people can be addicted to sport …

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