the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma. (Dictionary.com Unabridged, Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.)
Let’s see how that applies to a certain activity: cycling.
Enslaved to a habit or practice? I have ridden, since 1/1/2011, 688 miles and climbed a total of 27, 364 feet while burning 36,426 calories. Does that qualify as “enslaved?” There is certainly a habit there and the consistency may be evidence of enslavement.
How about “something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming?” I must admit that I feel down if I don’t get in a ride a time or two a week, and I feel physically less able at the same time. Does that drive me back onto two wheels? You bet it does. OK, check off that factor.
Then does “cessation [of riding] causes [s]evere trauma?” I might argue about the “severe” adjective, or perhaps stick with “severe” but argue about “trauma.” Hmmm, wonder what Jennifer’s take on that would be … don’t think I will ask her.
I suppose we can conclude that my cycling has become an addiction, maybe not according to the DSM-IV manual, but in practical terms. Why does this happen and is it a problem?
In dealing with substance abuse one of the indicators of abuse or addiction is whether the activity interferes with one’s life. We all know plenty of people who have hobbies or sports that interfere with their regular life, or their responsibilities. How could an exercise or sport activity come to that result? It is due to the pleasure gained from the activity. Just as many drugs release endorphins — the pleasure-producing brain chemical — so does exercise. Thus,
But now medical technology has caught up with exercise lore. Researchers in Germany, using advances in neuroscience, report in the current issue of the journal Cerebral Cortex that the folk belief is true: Running does elicit a flood of endorphins in the brain. The endorphins are associated with mood changes, and the more endorphins a runner’s body pumps out, the greater the effect.
Running, cycling, or any exercise of sufficient intensity has that effect and, once you get far enough involved in the activity to get beyond just sheer pain, the benefits begin to flow.
So yes, I’m addicted. 30+ years ago I was addicted to running and then life got in the way and I got away from it. I have been a year getting to this stage and by the grace of God I can hang onto it for a lifetime.
Is such an addiction a problem? Only if you don’t have it! Highly recommended. Beneficial, cheap and lawful.
- How Drugs Change Brain Structure (drjuliemyers.wordpress.com)
- Exercise and drug use: What do they have in common? (slate.com)
- When the Addiction Isn’t to Drugs (everydayhealth.com)
- Exercise Addiction – Healthy Habit or Obsession? (everydayhealth.com)