Have you ever heard of bigorexia? Bigorexia (also called sports addiction) was recognized in 2011 by the World Health Organization.
What is it all about?
Bigorexia is a behavior addiction.
It is an uncontrollable and compulsive need to regularly and intensively carry out one or more sports activities despite long-term negative consequences on physical, psychological and social health.
Sports then become a priority, to the point of encroaching on all other parts of the person’s life.
People with bigorexia usually have at least one sport session per day (although this is counterproductive). If this routine gets canceled or hampered, the person feels guilty and unwell.
In the case of bigorexia, the search for an athletic and/or high-performance body is an obsession, as is the constant need to feel the endorphins that provide a sense of well-being, linked to the sport session.
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How is bigorexia recognized?
Symptoms are multiple. The more they are, the less they should be neglected.
The most common symptoms are as follows:
- recurring injuries (the bigorexic person generally prefers to continue training rather than take the time to heal and recover),
- extreme self-discipline in the conduct of one or more physical activities (even if the person is injured or ill, their training takes precedence),
- feeling of guilt in the event of a missed session, and
- control over diet.
Often, when a person suffers from bigorexia, there are also consequences in their diet.
Generally, a bigorexic person deprives themselves of a type or group of food in order not to gain weight. Sugars, fats or starches are at the top of the list.
Read also: Dieting is a bad idea
Here are three examples of situations that can easily be found in people with bigorexia:
- preferring to miss a close family member’s or friend’s birthday so that they can keep up the pace of their training,
- refusing to go out on weekends or holidays if there is no access to a gym or possibility of conducting physical activity, and
- getting up extremely early or, on the contrary, going to bed very late, to be able to squeeze a sport session if the day is exceptionlly busy.
What are the consequences of sports addiction?
Bigorexia, in the long term, is exhausting for the body. When one is suffering from bigorexia, they do not take into account the limits of their body, in particular by neglecting the importance of rest. Thus, the body is pushed to the extreme. However, the body really needs to take a break to rebuild itself because after each sport session, the muscles undergo microtears.
Injuring oneself is one of the most significant risks relating to unawareness of body fatigue (sometimes not even felt) by the bigorexic person.
Moreover, in addition to physical exhaustion, the mind can be affected. Constantly seeking performance or aesthetics can generate a form of frustration, in case of dissatisfaction.
Did you know?
Bigorexia is classified as an eating disorder. Indeed, when a dietary gap is often followed by an intense sport session in order to counterbalance food intake, it is an eating disorder.
The downward spiral of bigorexia
Another warning point is the risk of doping. A person with bigorexia needs to push their limits so much that they can resort to doping. In this case, it is essential to be accompanied, whether from a psychological point of view or for withdrawal purposes.
Tips to end bigorexia
The first thing to do is to turn to health professionals – they will be able to rationalize the thoughts of the bigorexic person against sports practice and the diet that accompanies it.
If psychological follow-up may come as a surprise, remember that the body and mind are closely intertwined. Professional support is indispensable for an eating disorder. Taking care of one’s physical health is just as important as caring for one’s mental health.