Endorphins are compounds that are produced by the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small ductless gland at the base of the brain and the hypothalamus, which is a region in the brain that controls body temperature. Endorphins are often produced during exercise, moments of excitement, anxiety and pain. They are naturally occurring pain relievers, and they leave a soothing, relieving effect. They prevent the nerve cells from producing more pain signals.
Exercise addiction is an obsession that is attributed to many factors, and endorphin production is one of the major contributing factors. The condition is to some extent difficult to deduce since exercise is a regular, healthy activity for many people. Nevertheless, conditions such as the endorphin rush and runner’s high can be used to ascertain whether someone is addicted to exercise.
Endorphins and Exercise Addiction
Despite the fact that endorphins help to alleviate pain by producing a soothing effect, they can be detrimental when they are produced during strenuous exercises. This is because they can lead to exercise addiction, which is a condition that can be unhealthy if left unattended. Endorphins give humans a sense of control over their bodies, and this will result in a tendency to unconsciously carry on with a strenuous activity for an extended period of time.
Endorphins play a leading role in exercise addiction as their production leads to a soothing influence that is often addictive. This soothing feeling is similar to what opium and morphine users often experience whenever they take the drugs. This feeling leads to exercise addiction. Nevertheless, in most cases, people do not even know that they are addicted to exercises, as the addiction is attributed to psychological reasons.
Runner’s high is the effect of endorphin production that comes about due to intense workouts and strenuous exercises. These exercises go way beyond the threshold that activates the production of endorphins. High production of endorphins was previously observed among runners, and therefore, the condition is named runner’s high. Intense exercises, such as weight lifting and running, increase the production of endorphins because the body is trying to tolerate physical discomfort.
Just like any other addiction where dependency is established, exercise addiction makes some people feel a sense of satisfaction. This good feeling is temporary, however, and as a result most addicts tend to exercise continuously in order to fulfill their urge. Some believe that exercise addiction is not as bad as drug addiction, yet it can sometimes get to a dangerous level--especially if the victim stops interacting with other people. The addiction may also reach a level where one can't stop exercising. Exercise addiction should be treated as soon as possible. It may be a clue to a deeper underlying problem such as depression. The best way to avoid addiction is to follow a flexible training program.