Being an elite athlete -- or a world-class artist or musician -- or a ground-breaking scientist, for that matter -- requires passion and dedication. And there's often a fine line between a healthy, productive enthusiasm or even "obsession" for an activity that we love; and, on the other hand, a compulsion or addiction that ends up being mentally, emotionally or physically damaging. When is "too much of a good thing" a good thing -- and when is it simply too much?
Running and sport involvement is one of many innovative treatments for healing trauma. Activities like music, meditation, drama, and yoga offer new pathways to recovery by stimulating the brain’s natural neuro-plasticity. Creative therapists are employing exercises that help people focus on bodily sensations— and it’s largely through heightened body awareness that past traumas can be renegotiated and revisited rather than relived repeatedly.
Developing medical research shows how the mental habits of exercise addiction can lead to a group of conditions known as “athlete’s heart.” Masters athletes who are pushing their bodies harder than ever in the hope that exercise will keep them stay healthy and strong into their senior years can incur lasting harm from these heart conditions whether they consider themselves hardcore athletes have taken up sports seeking better health and weight loss. Yet "athlete’s heart” is not the inevitable consequence of training hard for everyone.
If you're already in the habit of walking, sitting, hiking or running through forests or parks with an abundance of trees, you've probably noticed how nourishing the experience is: how spending time in the natural world – immersed in the energy of trees, rivers, mountains and wildflower-filled meadows -- just feels really good. But why exactly is this? How does time away from city streets, in favor of more rural or back-country environments, actually affect our mental-emotional and physical health?
An intensely focused yet spacious mind -- with heightened levels of mindfulness, and deep concentration – can generate extreme feelings of bliss, joy and rapture. The focus required in extreme sports can facilitate access to something similar, which goes far in explaining its appeal.