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Abstract

Background and aims

Exercise dependence is implicated in the development of eating disorders and muscle dysmorphic disorder. Although conceptually these disorders represent similar pathologies they largely affect different genders and result in opposite body composition, appearance, and ideal-weight goals (i.e., to gain or lose/maintain weight). Therefore, understanding individuals' ideal-weight goals related to engaging in exercise while simultaneously examining gender differences in exercise dependence symptoms may help to identify those whom may be most at-risk for eating disorders and muscle dysmorphic disorder. The purpose of our study was to examine the moderating effect of gender for exercise dependence symptoms in relation to weight gain, loss, or maintenance goals.

Methods

Self-reported exercise behavior and exercise dependence symptoms (i.e., Exercise Dependence Scale) were assessed in 513 undergraduate students.

Results

Our analysis revealed a moderating effect for gender on ideal-weight goals and a gender difference in exercise dependence symptoms. Specifically, men who were dissatisfied with their current weight reported more exercise dependence symptoms than women.

Conclusions

These results support a growing body of research and extend our understanding of the relationships among exercise dependence and gender specific body-focused psychiatric disorders.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Brian Cook, Trisha M. Karr, Christie Zunker, James E. Mitchell, Ron Thompson, Roberta Sherman, Ann Erickson, Li Cao and Ross D. Crosby

Background

Previous research has identified exercise identity and social physique anxiety as two independent factors that are associated with exercise dependence.

Aims

The purpose of our study was to investigate the unique and interactive effect of these two known correlates of exercise dependence in a sample of 1,766 female runners.

Methods

Regression analyses tested the main effects of exercise identity and social physique anxiety on exercise dependence. An interaction term was calculated to examine the potential moderating effect of social physique anxiety on the exercise identity and exercise dependence relationship.

Results

Results indicate a main effect for exercise identity and social physique anxiety on exercise dependence; and the interaction of these factors explained exercise dependence scores beyond the independent effects. Thus, social physique anxiety acted as a moderator in the exercise identity and exercise dependence relationship.

Discussion

Our results indicate that individuals who strongly identify themselves as an exerciser and also endorse a high degree of social physique anxiety may be at risk for developing exercise dependence.

Conclusions

Our study supports previous research which has examined factors that may contribute to the development of exercise dependence and also suggests a previously unknown moderating relationship for social physique anxiety on exercise dependence.

Open access