Journal of Physical Activity Research
ISSN (Print): 2574-4437 ISSN (Online): 2574-4437 Website: Editor-in-chief: Peter Hart
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Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2018, 3(2), 102-108
DOI: 10.12691/jpar-3-2-7
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Hooked on Exercise: The Relationship between Exercise Addiction and Healthy Adherence in Collegiate Student-Athletes

Ksenia Berestetska1, and Michael Sachs1

1Department of Kinesiology, Temple University, Philadelphia, USA

Pub. Date: November 15, 2018

Cite this paper:
Ksenia Berestetska and Michael Sachs. Hooked on Exercise: The Relationship between Exercise Addiction and Healthy Adherence in Collegiate Student-Athletes. Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2018; 3(2):102-108. doi: 10.12691/jpar-3-2-7


Introduction: Exercise addiction is a prevalent issue among NCAA student-athletes that is often undiagnosed. The effects of excessive exercise involvement include but are not limited to lack of recovery time, acquisition of overuse injuries, and development of eating disorders. In addition, exercise addiction can result in low athletic and academic performances, subsequent depression, and resistance to seek professional assistance. The study findings may aid athletic administration and coaching staff in developing appropriate training methods that would facilitate student-athletes’ healthy adherence to physical activity. Purpose: The purpose of the current study was to explore: a) the levels of Division I student-athletes’ physiological and psychological dependence on physical activity (exercise addiction); b) the frequency and duration of student-athletes’ voluntary physical activity, in addition to the NCAA required training time; c) the motivational factors behind student-athletes’ voluntary physical activity, and d) the relationship between student-athletes’ exercise dependence and their weekly hours of voluntary physical activity. Methods: In total, 106 NCAA Division I collegiate athletes completed the Exercise Dependence Scale (EDS-21) and reported the duration and frequency of physical activity performed in addition to the NCAA required training. Participants also indicated the motivating forces behind their voluntary physical activity. Multiple linear regression and ANOVA tests were conducted to establish statistical significance for the relationships of interest. Results: Findings indicated, out of 106 student-athletes, 14.2% of athletes were identified as exercise dependent, while 62.3% of athletes demonstrated withdrawal symptoms. Exercise dependent student-athletes engaged in up to 6 hours of weekly physical activity in addition to the required 20-hour physical training (M = 4.27, SD = 0.26). On the NCAA required day off, 63 student-athletes (59.43%) engaged in up to 2 hours of physical activity (M = 1.34, SD = 0.13). Improving athletic performance was the main motivation behind athletes’ voluntary physical activity. Further, the results of multiple linear regression and ANOVA revealed a strong positive relationship between student-athletes’ exercise dependence and their weekly hours of voluntary physical activity (F (1, 104) = 181.139, p < 0.001, R = 0.797). Thus, exercise dependent student-athletes engaged in much higher amounts of voluntary physical activity than symptomatic and asymptomatic student-athletes (Mean differences = 1.145 and 3.267 hours, respectively). Discussion: Athletic administration and coaching staff can shape athletes’ perceptions of healthy exercise habits and facilitate long-term healthy adherence to physical activity. Future research can examine the effectiveness of educational programs for exercise addiction prevention on student-athletes’ abilities to detect maladaptive exercise habits.

exercise addiction exercise dependence exercise adherence exercise commitment

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