An exercise addiction is usually an obsession with physical fitness and exercise. It is a behavioural addiction which is often linked to other disorders such as eating disorders or body image disorders.
Similar to other addictions, individuals suffering from exercise addiction may display traits of other addicts for example, engaging in the behaviour even though they may want to stop, obsessing over the behaviour, engaging in the behaviour even though it may be causing physical damage or doing it in secret.
Exercise causes the release of certain chemicals in the nervous system. These chemicals create a sense of pleasure or reward. Exercise addiction may be, in part, a dependence on this pleasure response.
Extreme weight loss and health conditions related to weight loss could result from exercise addiction.
Exercise addiction often starts with an individual wanting to improve their physical fitness.
Like with most other addictions, taking part in the behaviour, and consuming the drug or alcohol leads to pleasure. In this case exercising releases dopamine and endorphins.
An exercise addict feels reward and joy when exercising. When they stop exercising, the neurotransmitters go away. An addict has to exercise more to trigger the chemical release.