Thursday 27 September 2007

six foot six and a hundred tons

I think I might be addicted to exercise.

It's not that I particularly enjoy exercise per se, it's that I feel so awful if I don't exercise; if I don't get my fix. A typical week for me has six days of exercise: a rest on Monday, a run at lunchtime or a game of football on Tuesday (and sometimes a run after football), a swim on Wednesday, football on Thursday, a swim on Friday (the pool is pleasantly quiet on a Friday evening), a run on Saturday and another swim or run on a Sunday. If I miss any one of those days, then I feel fat and lazy.

In spite of my bad neck, I've managed to play a game of football and go for a couple of runs so far this week, but because I've missed a couple of days, I feel fat and lazy. I was actually away in Telford today and there was no possible way that I could have done anything, but in my head this is no kind of excuse - it's just a day missed.

Like I say: it's an addiction. Or is it an obsession? Or is it both?

Missing a day's exercise also seems to leave me feeling a bit tense: it's brilliant for clearing the mind. No exercise equals a cluttered mind. It's surprising the things that work themselves out in your head when you are trawling up and down a swimming pool or running alongside a river, not to mention the number of earworms that drift onto my internal jukebox.

So it seems I depend upon exercise psychologically and psychiatrically as well as physically.

Frankly I'm amazed I give myself one day off a week.

It hasn't always been like this though.

I know you might not think it to look at me, but I eat like a horse and I feel that somehow if I don't exercise hard, then I will stop being able to eat what I want. This is partially true: after a very active life at school, I slowed down a lot when I was at University and - when an increased beer intake is factored in - I put on quite a lot of weight. I'm tall and have broad shoulders, so I carried this pretty well, but the simple truth is that I was about five stone (70lb) heavier than I am now. I never really set out to deliberately lose all that weight, it just kind of happened. I started to exercise more and to eat better (I think mainly because I began to cook for myself a lot more and discovered that I liked fruit and veg more than I liked a burger and chips). The final clincher was a nasty bout of bacterial food poisoning that seemed to affect my body's ability to process some types of food.... add it all together and the weight just fell off.

...but somewhere along the way I got hooked on exercise. It's not a habit I want to kick particularly, it's just that I'm not sure it's healthy being quite this obsessive about it.

It's in my nature, I suppose, and there are certainly worse habits I could have acquired.

Soap operas for starters.

That kind of thing.


  1. well endorphins are addictive, so it's possible. that's why I never started. Wouldn't want to get hooked.

  2. I think one of my biggest fears about the WTs is that one day they will stop me from exercising. I've never exactly been muscular, but already I'm fighting against muscle wastage in my arms, shoulders and across my chest. My endurance has been affected, and during exercise I can feel a loss of sensation in my thighs and in the soles of my feet. I fear this getting worse, and I really think myself lucky that I can still do as much as I do, albeit not to the same intensity as 2 years ago when I was training for the London Triathlon that I ultimately had to pull out of when the WTs struck.

    The irony is, of course, that the WTs might have struck me at that time *because* of the amount of exercise I was doing.

    Pick the bones out of that.


  3. I have a hard time getting myself started on an exercise routine, but once started I find it quite addictive...until, ultimately, life gets in the way and my regime falls by the wayside and I start all over again. I'd much prefer to just be steadily addicted like you. :)

  4. Exercise feels good...endorphins, etc. It's what our bodies are made to do - move.

    I feel like I was just starting to get a groove when I got sick, and while I want to get back to it (because I enjoyed moving), I just haven't been able to sustain it yet.

  5. I wouldn't mind being addicted to exercise. I tend to be a bit addicted to my walk home, but I really have to convince myself to do anything more than that. I tend to find that I exercise more if I can trick my brain into it, "Oh, I'll just stop off here at the gym on my way home. Oh, I'm here now, I may as well do a workout..." that sort of thing.

    It's a bit sad when you have to play games with yourself to get your quota of exercise! :)

  6. At work we've just published a book about exercise addiction - it's being recognised as an increasingly widespread problem, apparently.