Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Excessive Exercise Can Be Addicting, New Study Says

Date:
August 18, 2009
Source:
American Psychological Association
Summary:
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.

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.

Related Articles


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.

For those looking for an excuse to hit the couch, however, this study looked at excessive, not moderate, exercise. "As with food intake and other parts of life, moderation seems to be the key. Exercise, as long as it doesn't interfere with other aspects of one's life, is a good thing with respect to both physical and mental health," said lead author Robin Kanarek, PhD, of Tufts University.

For several weeks, 44 male and 40 female rats were allowed to either run in exercise wheels or remain inactive. To simulate anorexia athletica, the researchers divided the active and inactive rats into groups whose members were either given food for one hour a day or around the clock. Rats in all four groups were then given naloxone, a medicine for heroin overdose that produces immediate withdrawal symptoms.

Active and inactive rats responded very differently to naloxone, which was given in proportion to their weight. The active rats showed withdrawal symptoms like those seen in narcotics addicts: trembling, writhing, teeth chattering, and drooping eyelids.

The active rats who had access to food for only one hour a day both ran the most and displayed the most severe withdrawal symptoms. Like people with anorexia athletica, they ran so much that they lost significant amounts of weight. Additionally, the more a given rat had run, the worse its withdrawal symptoms after naloxone. In contrast, regardless of how much they ate, inactive rats responded very little to the drug.

Because of the way the active rats responded to naloxone, they seemed to have undergone the same changes in the brain's reward system as rats addicted to drugs. "Exercise, like drugs of abuse, leads to the release of neurotransmitters such as endorphins and dopamine, which are involved with a sense of reward," noted Kanarek.

Insights into behaviors that trigger the release of the brain's "reward" chemicals may lead to addiction treatments that incorporate moderate exercise, according to the researchers. The findings also suggest that active rats given limited food may make a good experimental model for studying and developing treatments for anorexia athletica, added Kanarek.

Because rats and humans share many nervous-system traits, researchers frequently carry laboratory findings like these out into the real world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Robin B. Kanarek, Kristen E. D'Anci, Nicole Jurdak, Wendy Foulds Mathes. Running and addiction: Precipitated withdrawal in a rat model of activity-based anorexia.. Behavioral Neuroscience, 2009; 123 (4): 905 DOI: 10.1037/a0015896

Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association. "Excessive Exercise Can Be Addicting, New Study Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 August 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817143600.htm>.
American Psychological Association. (2009, August 18). Excessive Exercise Can Be Addicting, New Study Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817143600.htm
American Psychological Association. "Excessive Exercise Can Be Addicting, New Study Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090817143600.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

The Best Tips to Curb Holiday Carbs

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) It's hard to resist those delicious but fattening carbs we all crave during the winter months, but there are some ways to stay satisfied without consuming the extra calories. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

Sierra Leone Bikers Spread the Message to Fight Ebola

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) More than 100 motorcyclists hit the road to spread awareness messages about Ebola. Nearly 7,000 people have now died from the virus, almost all of them in west Africa, according to the World Health Organization. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins