The ‘dark side’ of bodybuilding and signs to look out for
Striving to this ideal, as bodybuilders and weight lifters often do, has the potential to cause serious consequences on a psychological level, experts say.
"Research has shown that sports and activities that have an aesthetic component to them, where the way one appears is part of how one is being evaluated or judged, tend to have higher rates of eating disorders," says Dr. Sari Shepphird, a sports psychologist specializing in eating disorders. "Not only higher than in the general population but higher than even in other sports where the rates are already high."
While there's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to get in shape, the kind of perfectionism that is required in sports like bodybuilding is one risk factor in developing these issues, Shepphird says.
"It's a sport that... a lot of people find... exciting and engaging and motivating, but you just need to make sure, overall, that it's not beginning to affect your quality of life (or) your mental health," she says.