How To Know If You're Addicted To Exercise

While exercise is generally considered good for your health, you can do too much and even become addicted to it. Exercise releases dopamine and endorphins, neurotransmitters that cause feelings of reward and joy. Over time, you might begin to associate those feelings with working out, and that can lead to a desire to exercise more, even when it is not necessary or healthy. When exercise becomes an obsession, it could mean that you're becoming addicted, per Healthline.

People who set out to lose weight and embark on an extreme weight loss routine are at risk of becoming addicted to exercise. In addition, people who feel the need to stay in shape might also fall victim to it. Healthline explains that exercise addiction can result from image or eating disorders. According to Verywell Health, it is also associated with other conditions that include perfectionism, narcissism, neuroticism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and even addiction to drugs, smoking, and alcohol.

Exercise addiction leads to negative consequences

Addiction to exercise is what experts call behavioral addiction, meaning it is a behavior that leads to negative consequences. Some warning signs that you are becoming addicted to working out include feeling guilty or nervous when you don't exercise, working out when you are sick, or feeling as though exercise isn't enjoyable as it used to be. Symptoms of being addicted to exercise include investing a lot of time in it and working out longer than you intend to. In fact, your life may revolve around it, and you might sacrifice other activities to make time for it. Other signs include increasing how often you exercise and continuing to work out when you know you shouldn't or don't want to. You might feel also anxious or irritable when you don't exercise (via Verywell Health).

If you feel like you are, or could become addicted to exercise, you might want to set some limits on when you work out and take breaks to give your body time to recover (via Healthline). If you find it's difficult to cut down or even take some time away from working out, Verywell Health suggests talking with a professional who can help you identify obsessive behaviors and work toward controlling them.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).