Exercise Addiction

greenspun.com : LUSENET : APA Division 47 Exercise and Sport Psychology : One Thread

Who is the most likely to be an exercise addict? What types of exercise are likely to be addictive? Why do you think people become exrcise addicts? What are the characteristics of a negatively addicted individual? Does exercise participation lead to eating disorders or is it the other way? How can exercise practitioners deal with the negative consequences of negative addiction?

-- Lee Michael O'Donnell (Croyath@aol.com), June 02, 1999


Lee, Exercise addiction is a difficult area and to my knowledge not alot of work has been done on it. One way to conceptualise it may be to look at the nature of an athletes commitment to their sport. If you look at the Sport Commitment Scale (Scanlan et al) you can see that commitment is multidimensional and has both positive and negative contributions. If you consider that it is possible to be highly committed to a sport but not enjoy it then that may be a definition of a negative addiction. From this basis it would be people that have few alteratives to their sport that become addicted, that is sport is the only avenue through which they feel good about themselves. From memory factors such as perfectionism are probably related to addiction. The question of causal relationship between eating disorders and exercise is a difficult one - we know that some sports have higher than normal incidences of eating disorder (gymnastics, dance, middle/long distance running) however it is impossible to say that the sport caused the eating disorder. It is likely that the athlete was predisposed and that sport was one trigger. I'm not sure if this paper has been published but try and find an article by Jeremy Adams from LAtrobe University Melbourne - he has done work on this topic. In regards to what to do - I would suggest trying to slowly reduce the amount of the sport the athlete is doing, find what they enjoy about the sport and emphasise this - also introduce some alternative activities that make the athlete feel worthwhile as a person.

Whew! - good questions -I wish we had better answers. Good luck adam

-- adam hall (a.hall2@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au), November 16, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ