Signs of Exercise Addiction

Posted on August 26th, 2009

While moderate exercise is necessary for a healthy lifestyle, taking it too far can lead to an unhealthy addiction. Although exercise addiction is not a new concept, it has been getting more attention lately due to a new study that showed that excessive exercise in rats can be addicting.

In the study, rats were given a drug that produces withdrawal symptoms in heroin addicts were made to run excessively in exercise wheels, and went into withdrawal after they stopped running. Rats that ran the hardest had the most severe withdrawal symptoms.

These findings show that excessive exercising shares similarities with drug-taking behavior, and also sheds light on the potentially fatal eating disorder called anorexia athletica, in which exercise to shed pounds becomes as compulsive as taking drugs, resulting in even greater weight loss.

The American Fitness Professionals & Associates posted six common signs of exercise addiction on their website:

1. Exercising vigorously or to exhaustion, even when injury or illness is present, for more than 2 hours daily over a long period of time

2. Extreme and chronic fixation on weight loss, body image, or calories burned

3. Exercising to the point of significant pain (different from the empowering feeling of a good workout)

4. Skipping work, class, or social plans for exercise to the point that it interferes with personal relationships and normal life functioning

5. Exercising alone, isolated from others

6. Exercising to feel that exercise “high” again and again (different from exercising to elevate mood and reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and feeling a sense of accomplishment and progress from a sweaty run or weight lifting session)

If you are concerned you might have a problem with exercising or know someone who does, please consider these signs. If one or more of these signs fits you or someone you know, it is imperative that you seek treatment.
 

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