Too much of a good thing
Physical activity and sport are an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise and sport are indisputably beneficial for physical and mental health.
But can sport be addictive? Are there people who are addicted to exercise or sport?
In the last fifty years, scientists have documented several cases in which people took excessive, seemingly compulsive exercise, and could not reduce their daily quota of sporting activities. Due to the sheer number of their sporting activities, they neglected their friends and families, kept on exercising despite illnesses and serious injuries and could not reduce the amount of sport they did daily. If they were forced to take a break, they experienced severe withdrawal symptoms such as guilt, anxiety, and depression.
Many newspaper articles warn against the phenomenon of “exercise addiction” or “sports addiction” on the basis of these studies. To date, there is no recognised definition for this phenomenon, and “sport or exercise addiction” is not listed as a psychological disorder in the diagnosis manuals DSM-5 or ICD-10.
Even though sport addiction is not yet officially considered a recognised psychological disorder or illness, sufferers need professional help. As with other behavioural addictions, such as internet addiction, sex addiction or compulsive buying, sports addicts can also learn to manage their “drug” more healthily, as part of therapy. Sport and exercise are, of course, healthy per se, but the quantity is important!
Are the people described above addicted to sport or exercise? Do behavioural addictions like exercise addiction differ from substance addictions? Dr Flora Colledge and the research group at the Department of Sport, Physical Activity and Health (DSBG) of the University of Basel, are investigating these questions with the aim of finding answers, which is why they are looking for study participants.
Have you wondered if you’re doing too much sport? Do you maybe recognise yourself in the descriptions a bit, or did they remind you of someone you know?
Are you, or the person you just thought of, aged between 18 and 70, doing 10 or more hours per week of sport/training/physical exercise, even when you’re ill or injured? Then get in touch with Dr Flora Colledge and her team, or make the person you just thought of aware of the study. Contact
The payment for participating in the study is CHF 40.00 (1 appointment) to CHF 150.00 (3 appointments).
You can find more information about exercise addiction and the study on the study website: www.bewegungssucht.com.