What is an Addiction?
"Any compulsive activity or involvement which decreases a person's ability to deal with other aspects of his/her life to the point where that activity or involvement comprises the dominant source of emotional reinforcement and identity for the person" (Gapin, Etnier, Tucker 2009).

Students and Addiction
Students in the college setting are prone to trying new things and becoming addicted to certain substances with harmful, negative effects. According to USA today,
"Nearly half of America's 5.4 million full-time college students abuse drugs or drink alcohol on binges at least once a month, according to a new study that portrays substance and alcohol abuse as an increasingly urgent problem on campuses across the nation." We know there is a problem with substance abuse in college, but college students are also affected by exercise abuse. College students may become addicted to exercise just as likely as becoming addicted to substances. Exercise addiction is often overlooked because the effects of exercise addiction are not always negative. Although exercise addiction is not considered a negative addiction, a student who is dependent on exercise will suffer physically and psychologically. Exercise begins as a way to deal with stress then with obsessive exercise it becomes a stressor and ultimately affects students in a negative manner.

I choose to create a Wiki on exercise addiction because students at Coe may not know they are addicted to exercise before the addiction completely controls their life. Exercise may not be as serious of an addiction as others, but it still can control student's lives as well as make them suffer psychologically. I think my fellow pupils will benefit from my research because they can use my page to understand the signs and symptoms of exercise addiction so they can get help before it is too late.

Background of Exercises Addiction
Exercise addiction is defined as "a physical activity that is extreme in frequency and duration, relatively resistant to change and likely to be accompanied by an irresistible impulse to perform even in the face of injury, fatigue, or other personal demands" (Parastatidou, Doganis, Theodorakis, Vlachopoulos, 2012). It was not really considered an addiction because people perceive addictions to have only negative effects.


Positive addiction
Negative addiction
Has some beneficial aspects
Has no beneficial aspects
Drugs, gambling

Stages of Addiction- People who are considered to be addicted to exercise have the same components as other negative addictions.
  • Salience – This occurs when the particular activity becomes the most important activity in the person’s life and dominates their thinking (preoccupations and cognitive distortions), feelings (cravings), and behaviour (deterioration of socialised behaviour). For instance, even if the person is not actually engaged in the behaviour they will be thinking about the next time they will be.
  • Mood modification – This refers to the subjective experiences that people report as a consequence of engaging in the particular activity and can be seen as a coping strategy (i.e., they experience anarousing ‘‘buzz’’ or a ‘‘high’’, or paradoxi- cally tranquilising feel of ‘‘escape’’ or ‘‘numbing’’).
  • Tolerance – This is the process whereby increasing amounts of the particular activity are required to achieve the former effects. For instance, a gambler may have to gradually increase the size of the bet to experience a euphoric effect that was initially obtained by a much smaller bet.
  • Withdrawal symptoms – These are the unpleasant feeling states and/or physical effects which occur when the particular activity is discontinued or suddenly reduced, e.g., the shakes, moodiness, irritability etc.
  • Conflict – This refers to the conflicts between the addict and those around them (interpersonal conflict), conflicts with other activities (job, social life, hobbies and interests) or from within the individual themselves (intrapsychic conflict) which are concerned with the particular activity.
  • Relapse – This is the tendency for repeated reversions to earlier patterns of the particular activity to recur and for even the most extreme patterns typical of the height of the addiction to be quickly restored after many years of abstinence or control.
(Terry, Annabel, Szabo, Attila, Griffiths, Mark 2004)

Exercise Addict Example

How does exercise addiction affect students?
Exercise dependence was used to describe cases of "overcommitment" to exercise in men who continued running despite injuries and other complications (Parastatidou, Doganis, Theodorakis, & Vlachopoulos, 2012). Students who are addicted to exercise continue to work out when sick, injured or when they have other obligations such as homework. Students may feel concerned about gaining the "freshman fifteen," so they turn to exercise that can cause other complications if the exercise becomes an addiction.

Names for the negative phenomenon of overuse exercise.
  1. Exercise dependence
  2. Exercise addiction
  3. Obligatory
  4. Compulsive
  5. Obsessive
  6. Excessive exercise
(Parastatidou, Doganis, Theodorakis, & Vlachopoulos, 2012)

Domino Affect
According to the article, Exercise Addiction: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Epidemiology, and Etiology, if exaggerated exercise is the primary addiction it is likely it can be followed by other forms of addition such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. However, there is no evidence that exercise addiction is always the primary addiction, but psychologists believe there is a link between exercise behaviors and eating disorders (Berczik, Szabo, Griffiths, Kurimay 2012). This relates to college students because, students who are addicted to exercise are likely to have some form of eating disorder. According to the article Comparing Self-determination and Body Image Between Excessive and Healthy Exercisers (2009) people who are excessive exercisers are motivated by their body image. The same students who are concerned about body image and are addicted to exercise are even more likely to have an eating disorder because eating disorders generally begin when someone has a negative body image (Fortier, Farrell 2009).

Blaydon and Linder (2002) did a study to determine the correlation between exercise addiction and eating disorders. focused on triathletes and found that 52% of the triathletes examined were addicted to exercise. Of the 52% examined, 30% suffered from primary exercise addiction meaning they showed high scores for exercise addiction but low scores toward eating disorders. The remaining 22% suffered from secondary exercise addiction. (high scores for exercise addiction as well as high scores for eating disorders). This does not really consider students, but if it is reasonable to assume that students who are dependent on exercise could also be suffering from some form of eating disorder.

Classification of Exercise Addiction
Currently, exercise addiction has not been classified with any other official psychological diagnostic framework. However, the article, Exercise Addiction: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Epidemiology, and Etiology, classifies exercise addiction as predominantly a compulsive form of addiction rather than an impulsive addiction
(Berczik, Szabo, Griffiths, Kurimay 2012).
Psychological Explanations
"Szabo (1995) proposed a cognitive appraisal hypothesis to undersand exercise addiction. According to his theory, Exercise is initially used to cope with stress and other negative psychological feelings. When someone continues to exercise without the negative psychological feelings, there is also a loss of the coping mechanism (exercise). In other words the stress reliever (exercise) becomes the stressor. When exercisers lose control over stressful situation(s) that they used to deal with through exercise. the loss of the coping mechanism, followed by the loss of control over stress, generates an increased perception of vulnerability to stress, which further amplifies the negative psychological feelings associated with exercise. The pressure urges the individual to resume exercise even at the expense of other obligations in their daily life. Excessive exercise causes more stress to the individual because they are missing school, potential the loss of a job. The individual continues to exercise to attempt the stress that was initially created by exercise itself" (Berczik, Szabo, Griffiths, Kurimay 2012).

Thermogenic hypothesis- exercise increases the body temperature (which reduces tonic muscle activity) reducing somatic anxiety (Griffiths 1997).

Catecholamine hypothesis- exercise releases catecholamines which are strongly implicates in the control of attention, moods, movement and endocrine cardiovascular and stress responses (i.e., dopamine, adrenaline, noradrenaline) (Griffiths 1997).

Endorphin hypothesis- exercise addiction is more of a physiological addiction. This hypothesis suggests that exercise produces endogenous morphines which lead to a reenforcing enhances mood state (Griffiths 1997).

Problems Studying Exercise Addiction
"Most of the knowledge about exercise addiction stems from studies conducted with long-distance
runners. Little research has been conducted in other forms of structured physical activities"
(Berczik, Szabo, Griffiths, Kurimay 2012).

People tend to think that runners are the most likely to suffer from exercise addiction. We do not know if this is true because there has not been many studies regarding other forms of exercise
(Berczik, Szabo, Griffiths, Kurimay 2012).

The Science of Exercise Addiction
The right frontal lobe of the brain is responsible of negative cognition. Many psychologists hypothesized that the right frontal lobe would be more active because it would indicate the exercise addicts associate more negative affects. When exercise addicts were actually tested using a EEG psychologists found that the left frontal lobe was more active meaning the testers thought of exercise as a positive affect. "One explanation for the results of the EEG test could be that reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.are the primary motives for exercise behavior in exercise addicts versus non-addicts" (Gapin, Etnier, Tucker 2009). Overall exercise addiction and other types of addiction such as substance abuse activate the positive portion of the body because most substance attics use substances to cope rather than exercise.

Extraversion and Exercise Addiction
Extraversion has been suggested as a factor associated with addiction. This claim was tested in relation to exercise addiction. Twelve exercise addicts were compared with 12 non addicted individuals who were committed to regular exercise and with 12 non exercising individuals drawn from the same student population. Addicted exercisers did not differ from the non addicted exercised in extraversion, although exercisers as a group were more extraverted than non exercisers. The results are interpreted as evidence against the flame that extraversion is a component of the addictive personality profile (Mathers, Walker 1999). People who exercise tend to be more extroverted than people who do not, making exercise a potential therapoutic act.

Exercise Therapy
The World Health Organization predicts that depression will create the second greatest burden of disease by 2020, requiring cost-effective prevention and intervention strategies. The evidence to support the benefits of exercise in offering protection from depression and as an intervention in the treatment of mental illness is growing. While many of the studies reviewed have methodological weaknesses, including lack of concealment in randomization, limited use of intention to treat and blinding, the benefits of exercise far outweigh the risks. Neurobiological and psychological explanations as to why exercise should work are discussed. There is evidence that exercise protects against depression and is an effective intervention and adjunctive intervention for the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Exercise provides some health and psychological benefits as an adjunct to treatment in complex mental health problems such as alcohol and drug rehabilitation (Donaghy 2007).

How to tell if you are Addicted to Exercise
Not Addicted
Engage in exercise for extrinsic rewards
Are more likely to exercise for intrinsic rewards
View their exercise as an important, but not central part of their lives
View exercise as the central part of their lives
May not suffer severe withdrawal symptoms when they cannot exercise for some reason
Experience disturbing deprivation sensations when they are unable to exercise

Are You Addicted?
(answer the questions yes or no)
Seven Factors to Consider when Evaluating any Substance Abuse
  1. Tolerance: Do you need more and more of the activity to achieve its initial effects? Y/N
  2. Withdrawal: Do you have increased agitation, fatigue, and tension when not exercising? Y/N
  3. “Intention Effect”: Do you find yourself exercising for longer than intended on most trips to the gym? Y/N
  4. Lack of control: Difficulty scaling back the duration and intensity of exercise? Y/N
  5. Time Spent: Are you funneling exorbitant chunks of our day and night towards fitness-related activities? Y/N
  6. Reduction of Other Pursuits: Do you avoid social engagements that don’t involve exercise, cancelling plans, or showing up late for work or class in order to exercise longer? Y/N
  7. Continuance Despite Injury: Are you not taking enough time off to heal despite your doctor repeatedly raising judgmental eyebrows? Y/N
If you answered 3 or more with yes, than you may be addicted to exercise

Exercise addiction has not been studied as much as other addictions but through the research I have put together it is clear that exercise addiction can be as controlling as other addictions. Students must be aware of the symptoms of exercise addiction because according to Breczik and his research, it is likely that exercise addiction is paired with some form of eating disorder. Eating disorders are based on body image, so if Coe could come up with a way to make students feel more comfortable with their body image they could decrease eating disorders and exercise addicts at the same time. The school should have students sign into the gym and Coe should monitor student's time spent exercising. If it becomes a chronic issue, like the student is missing class to exercise then the school should step in and help because it is likely they are addicted to exercise. Overall, exercise addiction should not be taken lightly, schools should look at exercise addiction the same as any other form of addiction because people who are addicted to exercise go through the same stages as any other negative addictions. Just because something is beneficial, like exercise, does not mean it is always beneficial because doing so too frequently can have adverse effects.

Berczik, K., Szabo, A., Griffiths, M., & Kurimay, T. (2012). exercise addiction: symptoms, diagnosis, epidemiology, and etiology. Substance Use & Misuse, 47, 403-417.

College drug use, binge drinking rise - USATODAY.com. (n.d.). College drug use, binge drinking rise - USATODAY.com. Retrieved November 28, 2013, from http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-03-15-college-drug-use_N.htm

DONAGHY, M. (2007). Exercise can seriously improve your mental health: Fact or fiction?. Advances in Physiotherapy, 1, 76-88.

Exercise Addiction. (2010, November 23). YouTube. Retrieved November 28, 2013, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMf5M3DWRSo

Fortier, M., & Farrell, R. (2009). comparing self-determination and body image between exercise and healthy exercisers. Hellenic Journal of Psychology, 6, 223-244.

Gapin, J., Etnier, J. L., & Tucker, D. (2009). The Relationship Between Frontal Brain Asymmetry And Exercise Addiction. Journal of Psychophysiology, 23(3), 135-142.

Griffiths, M. (1997). Exercise Addiction: A Case Study. Addiction Research & Theory , 5(2), 161-168.

Mathers, S., & Walker, M. B. (1999). Extraversion And Exercise Addiction. The Journal of Psychology, 133(1), 125-128.

Parastatidou, I. (2012). Addicted to Exercise. European Journal of Psychology Assessment, 28, 3-10.

Terry, A., Szabo, A., & Griffiths, M. (2004). The Exercise Addiction Inventory: A New Brief Screening Tool. Addiction Research and Theory, 12(5), 489-499.