Tag Archives: Daily Mail

Exercise and addiction

96px-Weighted_sit-ups_on_an_exercise_ballAccording to the Daily Mail, neuroscientists from Tufts University, Boston suggest that exercise can be as addictive as heroin. Apparently ‘mild exercise such as jogging or bike riding can turn into triathlons and 100-mile bike rides.’ Biologists direct our attention to adrenalin, endorphins and even a genetic disposition to addictive behaviours, whereas, as social psychologists we are interested in the social conditioning aspect of that behaviour. Addictive behaviour then, is described in terms of its ability to resolve ego deficiencies or other psychological deficits—brought on, for example, by fear of social ridicule.

With much of society now focused on obesity and with an abundance of media images and articles describing how one can get the perfect body, it is hardly surprising that obsessive exercising is increasing or claimed to be as addictive as heroin. As social psychologists it is worth pausing for a moment to consider some of the gendered aspects of extreme exercise addiction. For example, Grogan and Richards (2002) suggest that male bodybuilders were using steroids to develop bigger muscles in an attempt to embody and display masculinity. Whereas Jansen et al. (2006) suggested that some women dieting and exercising for a feminine looking slim and curvy body, had developed the potentially fatal condition of anorexia athletica.


Exercise can be as addictive as heroin


The psychology and neurobiology of addiction: an incentive–sensitization view


Theory of Addiction

Ageing, beauty and women’s bodies

696px-Anti-aging_creamThe recent article in the Daily Mail newspaper ‘No longer the bees’ knees: Should any woman show her legs after 40?’ tells us much about the social expectations of feminine identities. In Western societies femininity is presented, in various media discourses (e.g. film, newspapers), in opposition to hegemonic masculine identities. Although media discourses constitute ‘ideal’ femininities, many women act upon and determine their own individual identities in relation to them. ‘Ideal’ femininity typically encompasses aspects of beauty, slenderness and stylishness, which are commonly linked to the youthful body. The individual can attempt to gain or maintain those aspects of femininity by consuming a myriad of anti-ageing and grooming products, cosmetics and various diet and exercise programmes. As social psychologists, understanding the pressure to conform these discourses exert on the individual, helps us understand the growth of more extreme forms of body maintenance such as eating disorders and cosmetic surgery.

square-eye Daily Mail ‘No longer the bees’ knees: Should any woman show her legs after 40?

square-eye Body talk: Questioning the assumptions in cognitive age

square-eye Body weight preoccupation in middle-age and ageing women: A general population survey