Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Can Motives Lead Athletes to Suffer from Exercise Dependence? Risk of Exercise Dependence According to Motives for Practice

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Can Motives Lead Athletes to Suffer from Exercise Dependence? Risk of Exercise Dependence According to Motives for Practice

Article excerpt


Low levels of physical activity during adolescence contribute to obesity and to a detriment in health during adulthood (Kopcakova et al., 2015). Therefore, there is a concern to promote physical activity and to develop habits of sport practice in the population, as it is known that regular physical exercise, if not excessive, results in physical and mental benefits (Matsudo, 2012). For the programs for the promotion of physical activity, among other variables, it has been researched that those reasons of practice lead to regular participation in physical exercise. For example, Moreno-Collados and Cruz-Bermudez (2015) affirm that it is necessary to continue studying the motivational aspects of a specific population to promote sport participation, in order to associate the promotion with motives that lead to regular practice. Another variable that should be considered in these programs is exercise dependence, since Allegre et al. (2007) concluded that after studying the prevalence and intensity of this variable, exercise dependence should be a behavior to take into account for the promotion of sport participation.

Exercise dependence is associated with excessive exercise, which takes priority over other areas of life (Lichtenstein et al., 2013). Possible causes of exercise dependence are psychological rewards, such as improved mood and/or health or more possibilities for socialising (Adams and Kirkby, 2003). However, these same variables are also motives for the practice of physical exercise, which are positively related to a higher prevalence of practice (Butt et al., 2011; Sindik et al., 2013). Therefore, there are reasons for practicing physical and sports activity that can have, at the same time, a positive and negative connotation.

According to Hannus (2012), little is known about the motivational antecedents that lead to excessive practice of physical exercise and exercise dependence. Therefore, other studies such as Cook et al. (2014) emphasise the importance of continuing to investigate psychological aspects and pathological motivations that lead to exercise dependence, worsening health and negatively influencing quality of life.

Therefore, although there is a clear association between physical activity, sport and good health (Nsengiyumva et al., 2014), this paper seeks to discover what motives can lead athletes to suffer exercise dependence. In addition, the different levels of risk of exercise dependence are analysed according to each motive for practice.

Material & methods


The sample consisted of a total of 414 athletes (Mage = 19.28, SD = 0.31), of whom 68.6% (n = 284) were males and 31.4% (n = 130) females. According to type of sport, 26.8% (n = 111) of the participants competed in some individual sport modality and the remaining 73.2% (n = 303) did it in collective sports. Referring to the level of competition, 72% (n = 298) competed at amateur level and 28% (n = 116) at the professional level. In addition, they had been practicing their sport for a mean of 3.93 years (± 1.123), with a mean of 3.87 (± 2.056) sessions per week in the last season and with a duration of almost 8 hours a week of training (7.98 ± 6.01).

Procedure/Test protocol/Skill test trial/Measure/Instruments

A management booklet was developed which began with a series of questions in order to collect sociosport data (age, sex, type of sport practiced by the participant, years of practice, competitive level achieved, weekly training sessions and duration of each session). Afterwards, two measuring instruments of the study variables were used.

For the evaluation of exercise dependence, the Spanish version of the "Exercise Dependence ScaleRevised" (EDS-R; Symons Downs et al., 2004) adapted by Sicilia and González-Cutre (2011) was used, which has shown adequate psychometric properties. For reliability testing, this tool presents global Cronbach Alpha values of . …

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