The importance of exercise cannot be over-emphasized. But too much of a good thing, as the saying goes, is a bad thing. How much is too much physical training, and when does it start to become destructive?

According to sports specialists, one-tenth of athletes training under intense physical regimens develop addiction to their sport and the demands exacted from them. They’re obsessed with the goal of surpassing their own record, to the point of addiction. These high-performing athletes are consumed with a passion for excellence in total disregard of the other aspects of their life.

According to psychology consultant Greg Chertok of Telos Sports Psychology Coaching, the obsession to do better physically can be pushed to extents that can be destructive and self-injurious. Chertok, who is also a member of the American College of Sports Medicine, added that addictive substances (such as drugs and alcohol) or activities (such as *** and exercise), affect the same brain sensors that provide gratification. The pleasure derived from such action encourages repetition.

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Exercise addiction drives a person to exhaustion with no place or time for the body to restore itself. As in the case of other forms of addiction, a full-blown exercise addict is driven to the wall, unable to stop the overexertion, and becomes crabby, sleepless, and depressed.

The people closest to the addicted person will notice it first. Relationships will be strained and work performance will suffer. It is often the affected person who recognizes the problem last, and may even deny the problem until it’s too late.

Since the addicted athlete will be the last person to acknowledge or accept the problem, it’ll be useful for family and friends to recognize the red flags when they see the person’s personal, social, and work life suffering. This condition is more common in men than in women, says Chertok, especially those who are obsessed with control, discipline, and highly-structured programs. The social approval that they initially get provides reinforcement, too. People are quick to appreciate a well-disciplined athlete.

Having a psychological coach or a mental health adviser helps athletes from “losing it.” The psychological coach sees the bigger picture of the whole person from one step back, which cannot be said of an athlete working on his own or solely with a strength-training coach. A mental health adviser provides the necessary support system to coach the athlete on how to keep the balance between sports and the other facets of life.