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  • 1 University of Kentucky, Kentucky, USA
  • 2 University of Florida and Jacksonville University, Florida, USA
  • 3 Neuropsychiatric Research Institute, 120 South 8th St, Fargo, ND, 58103, USA
Open access

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.

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