In the past, many developed definitions of addiction were mostly restricted to alcohol and drug ingestion (Adams, 1997, 1998; Brewer, 1994; Griffiths, 1996). This tendency ignored the issue of other addictions for instance exercise addition that features in every day live of many people. More recently, several behaviors have been viewed as addictive for instance gambling, sex, video games, and use of Internet (Griffiths, 1997, 2002). However, there is no much literature touching on exercises as addictive in human beings. Indeed, rewarding behaviors for instance exercise that is convenient for human health, when practiced obsessively they could as well trigger negative consequences. There have been attempts made in deriving definitions on the problem of exercise addiction but out of them, there still has not been a clear-cut research on the topic apart from mere generalizations (Adams, 1997). This research details the issue of exercise addition identifying some of the possible causes and risk involved in the routine. The intention if the research is to merge the knowledge gap existing in the field of exercising to give a better understanding of how exercise addiction can happens and means of controlling it.
This research used the obligatory Exercise Questionnaire (OEQ) (Thompson, 1991) as a modification of the earlier release of the Obligatory Running Questionnaire (Thompson, 1991). The questionnaire is a standard one covering wide exercise ranges and the individual behavior for instance weightlifting and running. The OEQ aimed at looking into secondary dependence (Szabo, 1998) to portray the main relationship between exercise behaviors and addiction as well as come up with the consequences of exercise addiction. The research used qualitative and quantitative analysis in deriving conclusions and recommendations from abstract feedbacks from the respondents (Adams, 1997, 1998; Brewer, 1994; Griffiths, 1996). The research involves more of qualitative data on the element of exercise addiction. Qualitative data were therefore, of the essence in bringing better analysis and a guide into the research completion. For quantitative analysis, it was of necessity in tabulating the number of people faced by experiences of addiction as well as the most addictive exercises among many (Thompson, 1991).
Exercise is both physical and psychological of importance to human health (Thompson, 1991; Szabo, 1995, 1998). However, several people exercise without limits therefore, overdoing exercise to damaging degrees. This propels researchers to agree on the issue that exercise, in some cases, could be harmful (Thompson, 1991; Szabo, 1995, 1998) as well as become addictive (Griffiths, 1997). Addiction prevalence of exercises is extraordinarily rare in reality for many individuals (Szabo, 1998), but when it happens, it comes with negative consequences and usually has devastating results in the body of an individual. Even though its rarity, subjective surmises of addiction of exercises are plentiful because Thompson (1991) used the concept positive addiction to labeling the useful aspects of routine exercise in opposition to drug abuse, drinking, or other seemingly self-destructive behaviors (Adams, 1997, 1998; Brewer, 1994; Griffiths, 1996).
The ‘‘positive’’ insight and subsequent adoption of the exercise addiction terminology by runners led to labeling of addiction as a strong commitment. In contributing to the debate on compulsive exercise, Morgan (1979) realized the problem and came up with the term negative exercise addiction as an antonym to the previous works by Glasser (1976). This term is in line with the abstract definition that any form of addiction when in the long term, it turns out to be negative (Thompson, 1991; Szabo, 1995, 1998).
Sachs (1981) viewed commitment to routine exercise as resulting from intellectual analysis of the immediate rewards of the practice, including health benefits, status, social relationships, prestige, and other monetary advantages (Brewer, 1994). In the light of his argument, committed exercisers practice in routine exercise for rewards. His argument also draws attention that the exercisers view their exercise as crucial, but do not take them as a central part of their lives (Adams, 1997, 1998; Brewer, 1994; Griffiths, 1996). Sachs also noted that the exercisers might not suffer withdrawal symptoms incase they stop exercising for some reason (Griffiths, 1996). In contrast to the routine exercises, addicted exercisers have a more likelihood of engaging in exercises to get intrinsic rewards, view routine exercise as a central part of their individual lives, and regularly experience deprivation sensations that are more disturbing when they stop exercising (Thompson, 1991; Szabo, 1995, 1998).
Szabo (1998) suggested appropriately that addicted exercisers develop powerful withdrawal symptoms compared to committed exercisers. A better way to distinguish between the two types of exercisers may be via the motives and actions for their exercises as individuals, for instance Sachs (1981). It is necessary to note the separating line that separates healthy committed exercisers and unhealthy ‘‘at risk’’ exercisers, because individuals addicted to exercising only engage in exercise detrimentally altering their lifestyle and causing financial, physical, medical, and social problems. Szabo (1998) did not find any correlation between commitment and addiction to running, and generalized that the two are independent and different concepts (Brewer, 1994).
Based on Brewer’s (1994) components of addictions, Griffiths (1996) redefined them in a way applicable to practice. The concepts applied to human behaviors for instance exercises. Salience as a concept applies to exercise addiction (Adams, 1997, 1998; Brewer, 1994; Griffiths, 1996). This mostly occurs when the particular exercise becomes the most crucial activity in the individual’s life dominating his thinking (Szabo, 1998). The condition in an individual at this time includes cognitive distortions and cravings to exercise. Brown gave an example that under these circumstances, even if the person is not exercising, they have a tendency of thinking it over of how it will be in the next exercising session (Griffiths, 1996).
Griffiths explain mood modification as another concept explaining exercise addiction in persons. It refers to the skewed experiences that a person reports after engaging in the certain activities it can as well be a coping strategy (Griffiths, 1996). The individual in this case experiences a kind of arousal and conviction to a point of nothing else than exercising. He adds that tolerance too is a concept that contributes to the assertion of how addiction happens in individuals (Adams, 1997, 1998; Brewer, 1994; Griffiths, 1996). This is the general process whereby an increase in exercising comes from the motivation of wanting more. The exerciser in this case feels the urge of gaining more muscle mass and increasing the toning of muscles therefore, engaging in more exercises and giving in to the addiction (Brewer, 1994).
Thompson (1991) explains exercise addition as because of withdrawal symptoms. He says that addiction develops in individuals who exercise because they cannot rest without experiencing unpleasant feeling states as well as other physical effects that occur after discontinuing the routine exercise (Adams, 1997, 1998; Brewer, 1994; Griffiths, 1996). Some of these feelings include moodiness, shakes and irritability among others, which render the individual restless and drop his concentration. At times, the individual has no other option; he just has to exercise to draw away the uncomfortable feelings of which it develops into an addiction. Griffiths (1997) conducted a study on ‘‘Joanna’’ an exercise addict, and identified these components as the main reason for the addiction development. He also noted some negative consequences that the addiction had on her including financial debt and missing lectures all in the name of exercising (Davis, 2000).
Mostly, sportsmen and people who do sports, no matter the kind, develop a form of addiction. From the perception of the same people, there is an agreement that exercise improves lower anxiety, mood, and causes positive emotions in varying individuals at varying degrees (Adams, 1997, 1998; Brewer, 1994; Griffiths, 1996). This is a prime reason why exercise remains as fundamental to people (Adams, 1998). These are both objective and subjective reasons why exercises become addictive and a practice of unhealthy habit (Szabo, 1998). People repeat the exercises with an aim of achieving particular results until they no longer can live a single day without exercising (Adams, 1997, 1998; Brewer, 1994; Griffiths, 1996). Scientific explanation to exercise addiction proves that individuals develop addiction out of some new physical and psychological developments (Adams, 1997).