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“I ran three miles, staggered into the lobby, and took the elevator to my apartment, no use overdoing this exercise junk.” Janet Evonovich About 40% of Americans report that they never exercise, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there are those that train through illness and injury, and miss other obligations to exercise, stick to an inflexible exercise regime and prefer to train alone (). These are some of the signs that there may be an exercise addiction problem (). It seems that everyone desires to look good, but the addicted exerciser believes that nothing is more vital than exercise (). Exercise addiction is a newly recognized condition which is characterized by a compulsion to exercise excessively even when the consequences are harmful (). While a severe problem, exercise addiction merely affects about 3.6% of the whole populace (). What is concerning is that the proportion appears to be ascending (). Exercise addiction is identified by the four steps of any addiction: tolerance, craving, dependence, and finally withdrawal (). There are three prominent types of problems that induce exercise addiction, physical, societal and psychological.
Most health care professionals believe that exercise addiction lies within our physical make-up (). Endorphins are often implicated in the euphoria known as “runners high, the relaxed state sometimes experienced during or after exercise (). Some may become addicted to the high. Much like a heroin addict, the exercise addict must now seek out the next high. With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain and fewer negative effects of stress (). The release of endorphins that is triggered by exercise and produces a feeling of euphoria is enough to cause addiction. The cycle of working out, increasing how frequent the workouts need to be in order to get the same effects which once were gained from a “normal workout, increasing how long and how intense the workouts are begins.
In addition to our physical composition, another reason for exercise addiction is the alarming function society has of bestowing on us a great deal of beauty and thinness on TV and magazines. Unlike drugs or some other addictions, exercise is not only socially acceptable, it is encouraged. Life has many stressors; exercise is used as a coping mechanism, i.e., exercise addicts deal with stress through exercise (). Not surprisingly, commonly exercise addiction is linked to eating disorders; this is due to the fact that eating disorders are centered on a person’s body image, not unlike exercise addiction (). An addicted exerciser with low self esteem can find gratification in the physical gains made through training and simply cannot determine when enough is enough. Inability to handle peer pressure, and the need for the perfect body are traits exhibited by exercise addicts (). Teenage girls are most at risk for exercise addiction (). Studies show that young women perceive themselves as ten pounds heavier than reality (). These women tend to be particularly affected by the proliferation of thin, beautiful, and athletic women featured in advertisements for beauty products, clothes, movies and TV (). Female models are often depicted as smaller than average. Young impressionable women tend to be affected negatively in terms of self image. Today young men are also being affected by the bombardment of the media which puts them at risk too for exercise addiction ().
While physical structure and societal influence are significant causes for exercise addiction, perhaps the largest factors that lead to exercise addiction are psychologically based. A central function of exercise addiction is the sense of control over mood, the body and the environment that exercise provides (). Exercise is one of the few things that people are able to control for themselves. Soon what they initially sought to control, soon controls them. Ironically, the attempt to exert control eventually leads to a loss of control over the ability to balance the activity with other priorities in life. The need for exercise is overvalued. Other time commitments, particularly connecting with people, are pushed aside to allow more time to exercise. In addition to exercise addiction being linked to eating disorders, another psychological problem that some associate with exercise addiction is obsessive/compulsive disorder (). Still yet another mental disorder which exercise addiction is linked to is body dysmorphic disorder (a distorted view of the body) (). Compulsive exercise is one way that those with body dysmorphic disorder try to fix what they consider flaws. Also, exercise addicts may go over the top because it makes them feel powerful that they are so disciplined and have such a perfect body. They may even feel superior because others look up to them. A sense of perfectionism pressures them to have that perfect body and so they exercise to the extreme.
Exercise addiction is a result of one’s physiological and psychological framework plus societal influence. Regular exercise is good for the body, in fact, doctors recommend it. However, a person can get too much of this good thing and result in serious social impact, dehydration, loss of joy, dangerous levels of weight loss, arrhythmia (irregular heart rate) and even death. Exercise Addiction is not just a term for overtraining. The difference between intensely exercising and being an exercise addict is that the addict will not stop even when the Doctor tells him/her that exercise is taking over his/her normal life. The idea of exercise addiction has existed since the 70’s. In the three decades since, researchers have found a connection between vigorous exercise and elevated endorphin levels (Pierce, 1993). Endorphins induce euphoria which causes addiction. The connection between endorphins and exercise addiction has been confirmed (), the positive reinforcement addicts receive coupled by the need for perfection, those with low self esteem seeking approval and control are all believed to be associated with exercise addiction. The dramatic in body size of the average woman and the average model can affect a woman's self image and in turn result in extreme exercising to lose weight and to look more like a model. Often when unable to achieve levels desired in other areas of life, perfectionists turn to exercise because it is something they can control. They may become obsessed with exercise, adding more time and intensity. The existence of such a condition must be assessed, and then a treatment plan must be devised. Early treatment and understanding of such a condition will assist in obtaining proper treatment and a chance to regain emotional and physical health.
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The content of your paper is MUCH IMPROVED over the last time I read this! Nice!!