Exercise addiction: what is known and what is yet to be known

Mon, 04/18/2022 - 13:26
Exercise addiction: what is known and what is yet to be known

Exercise addiction: what is known and what is yet to be known


Exercise addiction involves excessive worry about exercise routines, abusive practice and the inability to control one's own behavior, as well as the presence of psychological processes that are typical of addictive behaviors such as withdrawal or obsession.


Exercise addiction is associated with alterations in personal, social and professional functioning and with an increased risk of pathologies, including physical injuries, psychological disorders and eating disorders.


Débora Godoy Izquierdo, Estefanía Navarrón and Juan González Hernández, CIMCYC researchers, have reviewed the literature on exercise addiction, which is observed with greater evidence in both amateur and professional athletes of different performance levels. They also review the prevalence of up to 52% risk of exercise addiction, reaching 80% when it coexists with eating disorders.


In addition, the authors discuss some of the explanatory models proposed to date, as well as their strengths and limitations in terms of their capacity to reach agreement in the operationalization and characterization of exercise addiction, and therefore to be explored and deepened for a more optimal explanation of this condition. Some of the models discussed are based on measurement tests such as the OEQ (Obligatory Exercise Questionnaire), the EDQ (Exercise Dependence Questionnaire), CET (Compulsory Exercise Test) or the EAI (Exercise Addiction Inventory), focusing on different aspects of addictive behavior therefore offering partial views of the phenomenon.


To really understand exercise addiction, it is necessary to agree on a terminology, operationalization and measurement of addiction. This addiction will not be the same in regular gym users, in the general public or in professional athletes.


The most up-to-date approaches identify the attitudinal, cognitive, emotional, motivational and behavioral characteristics of exercise addiction and facilitate the detection of those who are motivated to exercise compulsively, or those who are more at risk of suffering from maladaptive psychological processes in order to begin therapeutic processes as soon as possible.



-Débora Godoy Izquierdo: deborag@ugr.es

-Estefanía Navarrón: navarron.psicologia@gmail.com

-Juan González Hernández: @email


Full reference

Godoy-Izquierdo, D., Navarrón, E., López-Mora, C., & González-Hernández, J. (2021). Exercise Addiction in the Sports Context: What Is Known and What Is Yet to Be Known. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11469-021-00641-9