More people addicted to exercising

PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - Mental health experts say they're seeing more people addicted to exercising.

"I exercise five days a week, sometimes six or seven," said Adrienne Weisman.

"Usually, a typical workout for me lasts an hour to an hour and a half," said Phil Cruz, Jr.

Health experts recommend 5 to 10 hours of exercise a week.

But when the need for exercise becomes obsessive, doctors say that could qualify as exercise addiction, a behavior that can be both physically and emotionally damaging.

"They tend to compromise time that they would have spend with their family, or work, or friends for example," said Anthony Vempala, an exercise physiologist at Memorial Hospital West. "It takes a toll on them."

Exercise releases endorphins and other feel good chemicals. Experts say exercise addicts want to experience that high over and over.

"A lot of exercisers tend to go on for an hour and half, two hours, even more to kind of keep that feeling going," added Vempala.

As with any addiction, once stopped, exercisers can suffer withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, headaches, insomnia, or lack of appetite.

Experts say knee and back injuries are common with exercise addicts. Some also have a poor image of their body.

Most people who Local 10's Kristi Krueger spoke with say they have a healthy love of exercise which helps them relieve stress.

"You are just in the zone," said Cruz. "Don't really see anything or hear anything except the music."

An eating disorders expect said she is seeing a growing number of women in their late 40s and early 50s suffering from anorexia and exercise addiction. She believes the conditions are triggered by hormonal changes.

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