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Exercise Addiction

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Amy Caruana Dingli

on 29 April 2015

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Transcript of Exercise Addiction


Biological Perspective
Biological Perspective
Clinical Perspective
Can a person be addicted to exercise without having an eating disorder?
Affect Regulation Hypothesis
Dopamine and Reward Pathway
Exercise Addiction
The fact of condition of
being physically and
mentally dependent on a
substance or activity
An activity requiring
physical effort, carried out
to sustain or improve
health and fitness.
Is this a Positive Addiction?
Introduced by Glasser (1976)
Morgan (1979)
Exercise can be physically harming.
Ms.P would like to take part in the Marathon. She jogs twice daily, in rain or shine, and increases her jogging time weekly.
Is Ms.P an exercise addict?
Marilyn Freimuth's (2008) clinical heuristic for distinguishing addiction
Phase 1
Recreational Exercise
Phase 2
At-Risk Exercise
Phase 3
Problematic Exercise
Phase 4
Exercise Addiction
Hausenblas & Downs 2002
Exercise Dependency Scale
based on the diagnostic criteria for
substance dependency of DSM-IV
'The more I do it,
the more it seems
that I need to do it.'
'You are depriving me of something that is essential to me'
'If I get to the end of the day and I think "Oh god, I haven't done my exercises", I do feel agitated and I have even got out of bed to do them.'
Ms.P plans on jogging for 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the evening. Instead she ends up staying at the gym for an extra 2 hours cycling.
She cannot stop herself from engaging in the the activity once she has the urge.
'I don't have the energy for a social life anymore'
'I know I have got permanent knee and shin injuries that I have given myself from over exercise, but I still continue to do it.'
'I plan it every night, I plan it in my head when I get up every morning'
Does Ms.P have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
Hollander (1993) highlighted the obsessive, repetitive and compulsive elements.
Yates (1991) obsessive qualities of addictions are distinct from those in obsessive-compulsive disorders.
Clinical Perspective

Physical Exercise
The biological perspective of exercise addiction encompasses those theories and explanations that show what might be going on in the mind and body when
The Runner's High Hypothesis
People who engage in intensive exercise report
effortless movements
THE Biological FORMULA
Intensity and duration + performance >60% oxygen uptake
+ sustained for 3 mins
Thompson and Blanton’s (1987)
Lower sympathetic activity + lower levels of arousal = lethargy & energy-lacking states
Etiology, Prevalence and Treatment
What is going on?
Reward pathway ,Cytokine Hypothesis,
Affect Regulation and physical effects

The Runner's High Hypothesis
Thermogenic Regulation Hypothesis
Catecholamine Hypothesis
Regular exercise might result in having a lower basal heart rate
This reflects an adaptation to exercise
Training effect also results in = lower sympathetic activity at rest
intense euphoria
''The feeling came over me where I felt like I could run forever''
The feeling of lower arousal makes the person want to do something about it - to INCREASE AROUSAL
For exercisers, the one way they see of increasing arousal is to engage in exercise again
This becomes a vicious cycle: the effects of exercise are only temporary, and therefore the person engages in exercise again and again
increases body temperature
this triggers a relaxing state
leads to a reduction in anxiety
acts as a positive reinforcer
Following exercise
increased levels of catecholamines
Catecholamines are involved in
the stress response
the sympathetic response
regulating mood and affect
play a role in
Reward System
addiction =
linked to an eating disorder, exercise for weight loss (De Coverley Veale, 1987)
Primary Exercise
"An end in itself"
(De Coverley Veale, 1987, p.738)
Secondary exercise addiction
What predisposes a person to develop exercise addiction?
1. Drive for thinness
2. Self-perfectionism
3. Obsessive-compulsiveness
(Goodwin, Haycraft, Willis & Meyer, 2011)

Drive to be first
Endure pain for longer
(Krivoschekov and Lushnikov, 2011)

High neuroticism
Low agreeableness
(Hausenblas & Giacobbi, 2004)

Mental imagery
(Hausenblas and Downs (2002)
Opiate System
The Biological Perspective
engaging in exercise for recreational use
at-risk exercise
me after the gym at the moment...
exercise dependent person;
long-lasting decrease in anxiety
Withdrawal symptoms
changes in affect (Weinstein & Weinstein, 2014; Szabo, 1995)
reduced vigor, increased tension + tiredness
increased heart rate (Weinstein & Weinstein, 2014)

Physical Effects
Other effects
neglect of work, family and social life (Weinstein & Weinstein, 2014; Krivoschekov & Lushnikov, 2011)
Exercise as a coping mechanism
less stress
deterioration other areas of life
more stress
Berczik et al., 2012
Weinstein & Weinstein (2014):
knee abnormalities
McNamara & McCabe (2012):
reported higher BMI
Comorbid eating disorders? (Freimuth, Moniz, & Kim, 2011)
Knowledge about healthy exercise (Adams, 2009)
Motivational interviewing (Adams, 2009)
CBT (Adams, 2009)
Contingency management (Adams, 2009)
Strengthen coping defences, identify triggers, enhance support system (Adams et al., 2003)
Change type of exercise (Weinstein & Weinstein, 2014)
Rosenberg & Feder (2014):
Improved Mood
Rest Period
Cytokine Hypothesis
Smith (2000):
By Amy Caruana Dingli
By Kate Warrington
By Hannah Farrell
By Sarah Tabone
Thompson & Blanton's (1987) hypothesis
The Catecholamine Hypothesis
The thermogenic regulation hypothesis
function as
Berczik et al., 2012; Goldberg, 1988
Goldfarb & Jamurtas, 1997; Kjaer & Dela, 1996
Thompson, J. K., & Blanton, P. (1987)
Berczik et al., 2012
Berczik et al., 2012
De Vries, 1981
Morgan & O’Connor, 1988

Berczik et al., 2012

 Krivoschekov &
Lushnikov (2011)
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