Exercise addiction: How to maintain a healthy mind and a balanced lifestyle [VIDEO]

Mental and physical health impacts you and your city. We explore the mental health benefits of exercise.


In Episode 2 of “Defrag Mind & Spirit,” we explore the endless drive for the perfect body and mind.

A cornucopia of boutique fitness studios and gyms quench Palm Beach County’s thirst to attain the perfect body. Athleisure-clad men and women, with their sun-kissed skin, take the scenic run along Okeeheelee Park, stroll through West Palm’s GreenMarket, and downward dog on Lake Worth beach. 

From the born-and-raised to the migrating snowbirds, fitness is no longer seen as a luxury item — it’s a thriving way of life for pro-active professionals and troubled folks who’ve found new footing in the body conscious community. 

There is, however, a price for actively pursuing this community, and it comes with what seems like an excessive amount of cardiovascular workouts and strength training. Gym rats who are unable to switch from body consciousness to overall health consciousness may be at risk for developing exercise addiction.

Like religion or drugs, humans have the ability to take activities to the extreme, no short of exchanging one high for another. 

So how do we make a permanent lifestyle change —  one that extends beyond the summer bod — without crossing the line from healthy habit to dangerous addiction?

Be aware of the threshold, says Dr. Jasset Smith, owner of Authentic Self Psychotherapeutic Services in West Palm Beach. When you start experiencing negative consequences professionally or personally, then you may have started the slide from habit into addiction, she says. 

While exercise addiction isn’t officially listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), a health guide produced by American Psychiatric Association, the inability to recognize good habit versus addiction is still a serious problem in the health community. 

A recent slew of physical health information provides compelling evidence (and a criteria) for why a balanced lifestyle should be the ideal goal and how personal wellness is inevitably connected to the well-being of your city. And a WalletHub study broadens the perspective of health consciousness by measuring a city’s access to physical and mental wellness. Researchers used 40 key indicators of good health in 170 of the most populated U.S. cities. 

Something to be happy about: Cities in Palm Beach County escaped the most (and least) stressed US cities list

The metrics fell into 4 broad categories. Each category can be used to analyze overall health progress and avoid the cautionary tales of body consciousness:

  • Access to healthcare (premature-death rate)
  • Food (fruit & vegetable consumption)
  • Fitness (fitness clubs per capita)
  • Green space (quality of parks) 

None of Palm Beach County’s 38 cities ranked in WalletHub’s healthiest and unhealthiest cities in America list, but urbanists in West Palm Beach have already implemented health initiatives connecting walkability with the well-being of individuals and city. The economic, environmental and health benefits are undeniable. Along with increased social interactions and improved cognition, walkability in communities is linked to decreased rates of obesity and diabetes, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 

West Palm News: Big redesign for Clematis Street on the way — here’s what the changes are

Switching from extreme body consciousness to overall health consciousness ensures a balanced lifestyle, one that will help you avoid exercise addiction by prioritizing the fullness of your being and the spaces you occupy. 

Watch Episode 1 of“Defrag Mind & Spirit”: Exploring the benefits of mindfulness and meditation to alleviate social media fatigue

To further this discussion and to find the right lifestyle balance, I sat down with Erika Strimer, owner of Total Movement, a fitness studio in downtown West Palm Beach, and Dr. Jasset Smith, owner of Authentic Self Psychotherapeutic Services, a mental health clinic on Palm Beach Lakes in West Palm.

See the video below or click here to launch YouTube.

Here are just 3 mindful steps to balance your lifestyle:

1. You and your network 

Positive interpersonal relationships help cement a healthy support system of family and friends, spiritual leaders, financial advisers, teachers and even life coaches. You can also visit your local recreation centers and libraries to build a sense of community.  And if your exercise regimen negatively takes up the majority of your schedule, it’s best to temporarily refrain from workout and identify the key areas that are affected. 

2. A professional trainer

It may be wise to invest in a knowledgeable personal trainer who can help with your coping mechanism and a healthy workout schedule. Better time management and rest periods will help you keep track of your physical and mental health progress.

3. Professional Counseling 

Mental health therapists are trained at finding the indicators of addiction and possible withdrawal symptoms; they can also help develop the best ways to resolve the issues and set proper conditions. 

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