Addiction to Exercise

By Natalie Laurendeau

I chose this topic because I'm interested in what causes people to be addicted to exercising and I also want to find out how common this addiction is.

History of exercise addiction

-exercise addiction is an unhealthy obsession with physical activity or fitness

-people who are addicts participate in this behavior even though it is physically harming them, want to stop exercising but can't, and also obsessively exercise in secret

-it has always been a problem but became worse recently due to social media portraying women as being super skinny and men in magazines being really muscular

Biology behind exercise addiction

-Exercise releases dopamine and endorphines that make the brain happy and act like a reward

-Exercise addiction is a dependence on these rewards

- Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia can lead to exercise addiction.

-A body dysmorphic disorder, or body image disorder, may also cause exercise addiction.

Available Treatments and withdrawal symtoms

-Accepting that you have the addiction is the first step

-A lot of self control is required to fight the addiction

-Inpatient rehab facilities are available and help to fight the underlying problem that is causing the addiction

-The facilities also monitor patients at all times, reducing the ability for patients to repeatedly exercise

-withdrawal symtoms include anxiety,restlessness, depression, guilt, tension, discomfort, loss of appetite,sleeplessness, and headaches.


-about 4% of Americans suffer from exercise addiction

-In extreme cases, some addicts may die(the number is unknown)

-About 10% of athletes are exercise addicts

-Researchers at the University of Southern California speculate that 15 percent of exercise addicts are also addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, or illicit drugs. An estimated 25 percent may have other addictions, such as sex addiction or shopping addiction.

Impacts of Exercise addiction

  • excessive weight loss
  • undernourishment
  • menstruation problems in women
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • frequent injuries
  • isolation and weakened social relationships(exercise is their only priority)
  • death (in extreme cases)
  • joint damage
  • Loss of muscle mass, muscle sprains, muscles strains, and torn muscles


Seven Warning Signs of Exercise Addiction

  1. Always working out alone, isolated from others.
  2. Always following the same rigid exercise pattern.
  3. Exercising for more than two hours daily, repeatedly.
  4. Fixation on weight loss or calories burned.
  5. Exercising when sick or injured.
  6. Exercising to the point of pain and beyond.
  7. Skipping work, class, or social plans for workouts.


"Choosing a Top Exercise Addiction Recovery Center." Best Inpatient Exercise Disorder Recovery Centers and Treatment Programs. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

"Exercise Addiction." Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.

Feature, Arthur AllenWebMD. "When Does Exercise Become Too Much Exercise." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2015

"Exercise Addiction." Exercise Addiction. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Sept. 2015.