Individuals who exercise on a regular basis will often swear by the euphoric feeling they achieve after exercising for a certain amount of time. Runners, in particular, can find themselves quite literally chasing a “runner’s high.”
Simply put, a runner, or anyone who exercises for an extended period of time, can induce their body’s own release of endorphins, which are basically naturally-produced opioids in the bloodstream. This does not sound like a bad thing, right? As with most things in life, it’s all about moderation.
Unfortunately, in some individuals, this can create a perfect storm for exercise addiction. While the act of exercising in and of itself can be very beneficial to an individual’s overall health and well-being, when those experiences of euphoria are combined with a person’s underlying obsessive compulsive behavior, it can lead a person down a dangerous path that will not only undermine most of the health benefits they are achieving, but it will also likely create new, unwanted conditions for the person.
In most cases, people who experience some form of exercise addiction also have difficulties in other aspects of their own personal and/or professional lives. They become convinced that exercise is key to holding their lives in check. Exercise becomes a way in which they express their emotions, including anxiety, frustration, and even grief. Oftentimes, the very area of their life that they are attempting to influence through exercise becomes even worse because they are so focused on exercising and reaching that happiness that they undercut or even ignore the real issue(s) they are attempting to resolve.
Exercise addiction can threaten an individual’s health, causing physical injuries due to inadequate rest and, in some instances, when they co-occur with an eating disorder, malnutrition, or serious illnesses. Should you or a loved one be struggling with exercise addiction, we invite you to contact our staff for additional information and treatment options.