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Why Exercise is Addicting


Why exercise is addictingMany people wonder why exercise is addicting, especially when you start seeing results. I think we can all agree that when exercise is tough (see: P90X is Hard), we often say “to heck with exercising”, especially because it’s too tough. But there is a break-thru barrier where the elite are made and the beach bodies are formed. When we break through that barrier, some people are known to have a slight addiction to exercising. Even if it is not popping in their favorite INSANITY Workout DVD 10 times per day, it could be the need for activity.

So let’s discuss a few reasons why exercise is addicting. Starting with a video from Tony Horton, and then also exploring the key components to the addiction: serotonin, dopamine,

Why Exercise is Addicting – From P90X Creator Tony Horton

Check out this awesome video on why exercise is addicting from none other than Tony Horton, the creator of P90X workout program.

In the video Tony mentions that exercise releases dopamine, serotonin, BDNF, and Norepinephrine. So what exactly does this mean when it comes down to why exercise is addicting? Let’s check it out, folks!

Why Exercise is Addicting #1 – Dopamine Release

What is amazing about Dopamine is that it is a neurotransmitter. This is basically something that helps the neurons in our brain communicate better. Releasing this neurotransmitter, dopamine, into certain parts of the brain, helps our mood. Specifically, when we exercise, it releases the dopamine into the right areas of your brain. These are the benefits that control:

  • Stress and Depression
  • Addiction (the bad addictions – yes, Exercise is good for breaking addictions!)
  • Obesity
  • Parkinson’s Disease

Why Exercise is Addicting #2 – Serotonin

Why exercise is addictingWhat you will see is that serotonin is another neurotransmitter, just like dopamine! But what is awesome about Serotonin, is that it helps with social aspects of our life. This means in short: giving you the confidence to speak to others without that awkward conversation!

I’m the king of this, mainly because I’ve been shy most of my life. Flash back to that time that you had a conversation with a bunch of people. Ever have that “awkward feeling”? I was browsing through Facebook a few weeks ago and noticed a hilarious picture that related to this very feeling. It said “That awkward time when you are talking and realize no one is listening, so you slowly fade away”. MAN if I could count the amount of times that’s happened!!

Well, serotonin can be that neurotransmitter that can help with the confidence to speak louder and less awkwardly. Now in the animal world, this is also important for competition amongst the wild. When trying to track down food and necessary supplies to survive, an animal’s social gauge is brought into play to really focus on if they can compete with the other animals. Crazy stuff huh? In exercise, appropriate dosage of serotonin is released into the brain. This is because when you exercise your body thinks you are competing, either chasing the enemy, or being chased. As you’ll see in the image, some of the great functions is motivation, euphoria, motor functions, etc.

Wow, all due to exercising! Are you on board yet with why exercise is addicting?

Let’s keep on going!

Why Exercise is Addicting #3 – BDNF

WTF does BDNF stand for? Glad you asked! Brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Now you can see why we say BDNF instead of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor. The word is insane, but the benefit is great.

Now BDNF can actually be attributed to why people get addicted to the wrong things (source: BDNF is a critical regulator of drug dependency. Those animals in testing who were given drugs and showed dependency actually had a high increase in BDNF.

But as always, BDNF doesn’t have to be associated with the bad druggy addictions. It can be associated with….you guessed it, Exercise addiction!

So while you could be getting addicted to exercise through the release of BDNF over the course of time, there is more good things to note. One of the big ones that I’ll share is Alzheimer’s Disease. That is a scary disease as I’m sure you can agree with me. Well, interestingly enough, in postmortem research, those who had Alzheimer’s Disease had an incredibly low amount of BDNF in the brain (Mattson, M. P., Nov 2008).

Now, for a serious note. There are those who get TOO addicted to exercise. BDNF can be a cause of that. If you or someone you know is overly addicted to exercise, please seek doctor or medical attention. While having an addiction to exercise when it comes to the enjoyment is OK, excessive behavior is not good.

Why Exercise is Addicting #4 – Norepinephrine

Last but not least is our buddy Norepinephrine. What is great about this part of exercise addiction is it’s two-folded role as a neurotransmitter and hormone control release. Norepinephrine (can I just call it norep for purposes of this article? :-)) actually acts as a drug. How? Well, it can increase vascular tone by increasing the blood pressure. Why would it do that? Well, norep actually helps by improving attention and the fight-or-flight response. It is the stress hormone that can help, over time, improve your overall attention span and an increased smart, yet laid back, attitude.

By releasing all of these chemicals into your brain while exercising, yes, it can be addicting. Especially if you are spending time really pushing hard with your workouts. While it isn’t the sudden rush (as Tony mentions above), it is important to note the importance of how the consistent action can pay off handsomely.

I hope you enjoyed this article on why exercise is addicting. Be sure to share it with others, as it is my goal to help as many people as possible with their fitness, health, nutritional, and wealth goals.


Bob Sharpe

PS – LEADERS – Work With Me

In 2010, Bob Sharpe was 70 pounds overweight and struggling with Acid Reflux. After getting his life in shape, he dedicated himself to a healthier lifestyle. Now, after losing 70 pounds and being in the best shape of his life, his goal is to help others do the same through his Beachbody coaching and assistance here on Bob Sharpe on Google + | Leaders Only – Click Here

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