There are two ideas I have been thinking about after reviewing the slides on addiction and addictive behaviors: One is that I easily understand how a behavioral addiction can happen, where instead of becoming addicted to a drug, a person becomes addicted to a behavior; and the other is that maybe exercise addiction is related to privilege. First, I can definitely relate to how exercise addiction can creep up on people. For example, two years ago I added weight training as a form exercise to my exercise routine and I immediately loved it. I definitely experienced (and still experience) the positive reinforcer of the exercise high while weight training, which is something I never experienced while doing cardio exercises alone. I am not addicted, as I have definitely not manifested 3 or more of the 7 DSM behaviors that make up the exercise dependence scale (See the DSM criteria here, which can also be found within the slides on addiction: http://www.personal.psu.edu/dsd11/EDS/index.html); however, I do now understand that it even though it is a positive behavior it can still become an addictive behavior, as along with the high, I now also experience withdrawal symptoms. What happens is if I do not weight train after three or four days in a row, I start to feel irritable, cranky, down and depressed (and I know a trip to the gym will immediately snap me out of this). The feelings definitely feel similar to not drinking coffee for a day or two (without the headache). So moving forward, I'll be keeping an eye on myself to make sure it never gets out of hand and becomes and addiction.
Second, I find fascinating the idea that not only is being fit a privilege, but perhaps exercise addiction is also a privilege. In the article linked below, “Acknowledge Your Fit Privilege,” James S. Fell, MBA, CSCS, and fitness columnist, asks people to consider that privilege allows one to be fit in the first place, and that “not everyone has the ability to ‘Just Do it.’” He asks his reader to consider the following possible factors in relation to one's ability to become fit:
· Being a single parent who must work two jobs
· Having medical issues that add body fat or make exercise virtually impossible, or both
· Lack of access to exercise facilities/lack of safe access to areas in which to exercise
· Lack of knowledge regarding fitness and weight loss because of being misled by and industry that is epically full of s***
· Lacking time/knowledge to shop and prepare healthy meals
It seems to me that if being fit is a privilege, then becoming an exercise addict would also be a privilege.