Excessive exercise can be addicting, new study says

Person running on treadmillWASHINGTON — Although exercise is good for your health, extreme exercise may be physically addicting. Rats given a drug that produces withdrawal in heroin addicts went into withdrawal after running excessively in exercise wheels, according to new research. Rats that ran the hardest had the most severe withdrawal symptoms.

The scientists who conducted the study reason that if excessive exercise is addicting, then maybe, to feel good, addicts could take moderate exercise instead of drugs. The findings also shed light on the potentially fatal eating disorder called anorexia athletica, in which exercise undertaken to shed pounds becomes as compulsive as taking drugs, resulting in even greater weight loss.

"Excessive running shares similarities with drug-taking behavior," the researchers wrote in the August issue of Behavioral Neuroscience, published by the American Psychological Association.

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