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Olympians Hanging Up Cleats Risk Drug Addict-Like Ills

Message to Olympians: be careful what you wish for. Going for gold can trigger a bad case of the blues -- or worse.

Research shows intensive exercise is as addictive as heroin, putting retiring Olympians at risk of depression. A third of elite athletes have an unhealthy preoccupation with training, scientists in Melbourne found in a study published in March. And the biological mechanisms of this so-called exercise dependence tend to mimic those involved in drug addiction, researchers at Tufts University in Boston said. Anxiety and depression may ensue when exercise stops, according to the Tufts study.