An update on the definition of excessive exercise in eating disorders research

Mond, Jonathan, Hay, Phillipa, Rodgers, Bryan, and Owen, Cathy (2006) An update on the definition of excessive exercise in eating disorders research. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 39 (2). pp. 147-153.

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Objective The current study informed the definition of excessive exercise by examining relations between exercise behavior, eating-disordered behavior, and quality of life (QOL) in a community sample of women.

Method Self-report measures of frequency of exercise, obligatory exercise and motivation for exercise, and of eating disorder psychopathology and QOL, were completed by 3,472 women aged 18-42 years who engaged in regular exercise.

Results The extent to which exercise is intended to influence weight or shape and the degree to which guilt is experienced when exercise is postphoned were the exercise variables most strongly associated with elevated levels of eating disorder psychopathology and reduced QOL. Subgroups of participants who reported exercising solely for weight and shape reasons (n = 322 [9.3%]), intense guilt after postponement of exercise (n = 136 [3.9%]), or both (n = 116 [3.3%]), had markedly elevated levels of eating disorder psychopathology. There was no association between excessive exercise and reduced QOL after the effects of eating disorder psychopathology were statistically controlled.

Conclusion The findings suggest that exercise is excessive when its postponement is accompanied by intense guilt or when it is undertaken solely to influence weight or shape. Operational definitions of excessive exercise might usefully include reference to these terms. The findings may also be of benefit in informing the content of prevention programs, which address dysfunctional exercise behavior. Excessive exercise is unlikely to be associated with impairment in psychosocial functioning in the absence of eating disorder psychopathology. It may, however, be a useful indicator of such psychopathology.

Item ID: 4012
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1098-108X
Keywords: eating disorders; obligatory exercise; quality of life
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2009 03:52
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1103 Clinical Sciences > 110319 Psychiatry (incl Psychotherapy) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920410 Mental Health @ 100%
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