Using Self-Determination Theory to Define Pathological Exercise

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology
View More View Less
  • 1 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year online subscription

USD  $59.00

1 year online subscription

USD  $79.00

Student 2 year online subscription

USD  $113.00

2 year online subscription

USD  $150.00

Pathological exercise behavior is pervasive in eating disorder psychopathology, yet minimal treatment guidance exists for extinguishing it as little is known about how to differentiate pathological from healthy exercise. The purpose of this study was to characterize pathological exercise in terms of motivation to increase the specificity with which both pathological and healthy exercise is described and to inform treatment interventions. Latent profile analysis characterized homogenous groups based on exercise motivation in two samples: college women (n = 200) and women with eating psychopathology (n = 211). These profiles were compared on levels of eating and general psychopathology and emotion dysregulation. Three profiles emerged describing sedentary, pathological exercise, and athlete groups in the first sample, and five profiles describing neutral, sedentary, weight loss, athlete, and pathological exercise groups emerged in the second sample. Findings indicate that motivation style is salient in defining pathological exercise and may, therefore, be a clinically useful treatment target.

The authors are with the Department of Psychology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ, USA.

Selby (edward.selby@rutgers.edu) is corresponding author.
  • Adkins, E.C., & Keel, P.K. (2005). Does “excessive” or “compulsive” best describe exercise as a symptom of bulimia nervosa? International Journal of Eating Disorders, 38(1), 2429. PubMed ID: 15991218 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berczik, K., Szabo, A., Griffiths, M.D., Kurimay, T., Kun, B., Urban, R., & Demetrovics, Z. (2012). Exercise addiction: Symptoms, diagnosis, epidemiology, and etiology. Substance Use & Misuse, 47(4), 403417. PubMed ID: 22216780 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brewster, M.E., Velez, B.L., Breslow, A.S., & Geiger, E.F. (2019). Unpacking body image concerns and disordered eating for transgender women: The roles of sexual objectification and minority stress. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 66(2), 131142. PubMed ID: 30702325 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brunet, J., & Sabiston, C.M. (2011). Exploring motivation for physical activity across the adult lifespan. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 12(2), 99105. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Calogero, R.M., & Pedrotty-Stump, K.N. (2010). Incorporating exercise into eating disorder treatment and recovery: Cultivating a mindful approach. In M. Margo, B. Douglas, & M. Beth Hartman (Eds.), Treatment of eating disorders: Bridging the research-practicegap (pp. 425442). London, UK: Academic Press. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Coniglio, K.A., Becker, K.R., Tabri, N., Keshishian, A.C., Miller, J.D., Eddy, K.T., & Thomas, J.J. (2018). Factorial integrity and validation of the Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory (EPSI). Eating Behaviors, 31, 17. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cook, B., Engel, S., Crosby, R., Hausenblas, H., Wonderlich, S., & Mitchell, J. (2014). Pathological motivations for exercise and eating disorder specific health-related quality of life. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47(3), 268272. PubMed ID: 24136170 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cuijpers, P., van Straten, A., & Warmerdam, L. (2007). Behavioral activation treatments of depression: A meta-analysis. Clinical Psychology Review, 27(3), 318326. PubMed ID: 17184887 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cunningham, H.E., Pearman, S., & Brewerton, T.D. (2016). Conceptualizing primary and secondary pathological exercise using available measures of excessive exercise. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 49(8), 778792. PubMed ID: 27203379 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deci, E.L., & Ryan, R.M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. New York, NY: Plenum Press.

  • Doll, H.A., & Fairburn, C.G. (1998). Heightened accuracy of self-reported weight in bulimia nervosa: A useful cognitive “distortion”. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 24(3), 267273. PubMed ID: 9741037 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eaton, W.W., Muntaner, C., Smith, C., Tien, A., & Ybarra, M. (2004). Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale: Review and revision (CESD and CESDR). In M.E. Maruish (Ed.), The use of psychological testing for treatment planning and outcomes assessment. Vol 3: Instruments for adults (3rd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 363378). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fairburn, C.G., & Beglin, S.J. (2008). Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q 6.0). In C.G. Fairburn (Ed.), Cognitive behavior therapy and eating disorders  (pp. 309314). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Farrell, N.R., Lee, A.A., & Deacon, B.J. (2015). Biological or psychological? Effects of eating disorder psychoeducation on self-blame and recovery expectations among symptomatic individuals. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 74, 3237. PubMed ID: 26378721 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Forbush, K.T., Wildes, J.E., & Hunt, T.K. (2014). Gender norms, psychometric properties, and validity for the Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47(1), 8591. PubMed ID: 23996154 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Forbush, K.T., Wildes, J.E., Pollack, L.O., Dunbar, D., Luo, J., Patterson, K., … Watson, D. (2013). Development and validation of the Eating Pathology Symptoms Inventory (EPSI). Psychological Assessment, 25(3), 859878. PubMed ID: 23815116 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gardner, R.M., Brown, D.L., & Boice, R. (2012). Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk website to measure accuracy of body size estimation and body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 9(4), 532534. PubMed ID: 22832086 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gratz, K.L., & Roemer, L. (2004). Multidimensional assessment of emotion regulation and dysregulation: Development, factor structure, and initial validation of the difficulties in emotion regulation scale. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 26, 4154. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Guss, C.E., Williams, D.N., Reisner, S.L., Austin, S.B., & Katz-Wise, S.L. (2017). Disordered weight management behaviors, nonprescription steroid use, and weight perception in transgender youth. Journal of Adolescent Health, 60(1), 1722. PubMed ID: 28029539 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hamer, M., Karageorghis, C.I., & Vlachopoulos, S.P. (2002). Motives for exercise participation as predictors of exercise dependence among endurance athletes. Journal of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness, 42(2), 233238.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harris, P.A., Taylor, R., Thielke, R., Payne, J., Gonzalez, N., & Conde, J.G. (2009). Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap)—A metadata-driven methodology and workflow process for providing translational research informatics support. Journal of Biomedical Informatics, 42(2), 377381. PubMed ID: 18929686 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hausenblas, H.A., Cook, B.J., & Chittester, N.I. (2008). Can exercise treat eating disorders? Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 36(1), 4347. PubMed ID: 18156953 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hay, P., Touyz, S., Arcelus, J., Pike, K., Attia, E., Crosby, R.D., … Meyer, C. (2018). A randomized controlled trial of the compuLsive Exercise Activity TheraPy (LEAP): A new approach to compulsive exercise in anorexia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 51(8), 9991004. PubMed ID: 30051623 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Holland, L.A., Brown, T.A., & Keel, P.K. (2014). Defining features of unhealthy exercise associated with disordered eating and eating disorder diagnoses. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 15(1), 116123. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hudson, J.I., Hiripi, E., Pope, H.G., & Kessler, R.C. (2007). The prevalence and correlates of eating disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 348358. PubMed ID: 16815322 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Klein, D.A., Schebendach, J.E., Gershkovich, M., Bodell, L.P., Foltin, R.W., & Walsh, B.T. (2010). Behavioral assessment of the reinforcing effect of exercise in women with anorexia nervosa: Further paradigm development and data. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 43(7), 611618. PubMed ID: 19806608 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McCabe, R.E., McFarlane, T., Polivy, J., & Olmsted, M.P. (2001). Eating disorders, dieting, and the accuracy of self-reported weight. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 29(1), 5964. PubMed ID: 11135334 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McGuire, J.K., Doty, J.L., Catalpa, J.M., & Ola, C. (2016). Body image in transgender young people: Findings from a qualitative, community based study. Body Image, 18 96107. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Meyer, C., Plateau, C.R., Taranis, L., Brewin, N., Wales, J., & Arcelus, J. (2016). The compulsive exercise test: Confirmatory factor analysis and links with eating psychopathology among women with clinical eating disorders. Journal of Eating Disorders, 4(1), 22. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mond, J.M., & Calogero, R.M. (2009). Excessive exercise in eating disorder patients and in healthy women. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43(3), 227234. PubMed ID: 19221911 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mond, J.M., Hay, P.J., Rodgers, B., Owen, C., & Beumont, P.J.V. (2004). Validity of the Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) in screening for eating disorders in community samples. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 42(5), 551567. PubMed ID: 15033501 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mullan, E., Markland, D., & Ingledew, D.K. (1997). A graded conceptualisation of self-determination in the regulation of exercise behaviour: Development of a measure using confirmatory factor analytic procedures. Personality and Individual Differences, 23(5), 745752. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Murray, S.B., Griffiths, S., Mond, J.M., Kean, J., & Blashill, A.J. (2016). Anabolic steroid use and body image psychopathology in men: Delineating between appearance- versus performance-driven motivations. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 165, 198202. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mustelin, L., Silén, Y., Raevuori, A., Hoek, H.W., Kaprio, J., & Keski-Rahkonen, A. (2016). The DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa may change its population prevalence and prognostic value. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 77, 8591. PubMed ID: 27014849 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nylund, K.L., Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B.O. (2007). Deciding on the number of classes in latent class analysis and growth mixture modeling: A Monte Carlo simulation study. Structural Equation Modeling, 14(4), 535569. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oberski, D. (2016). Mixture models: Latent profile and latent class analysis. In Modern statistical methods for HCI (pp. 275287). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Oman, R., & McAuley, E. (1993). Intrinsic motivation and exercise behavior. Journal of Health Education, 24(4), 232238. doi:

  • Quesnel, D.A., Libben, M., Oelke, N.D., Clark, M.I., Willis-Stewart, S., & Caperchione, C.M. (2018). Is abstinence really the best option? Exploring the role of exercise in the treatment and management of eating disorders. Eating Disorders, 26(3), 290310. PubMed ID: 29131718 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • R Core Team. (2014). The R project for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Vienna, Austria. Retrieved from http://www.R-project.org/

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reel, J.J. (2015). The relationship between exercise and eating disorders: A double-edged sword. In M.B. Anderson& S.J. Hanrahan (Eds.), Doing exercise psychology. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Reel, J.J., Lee, J.J., & Bellows, A. (2016). Integrating exercise and mindfulness for an emerging conceptual framework: The Intuitive Approach to Prevention and Health Promotion (IAPHP). Eating Disorders, 24(1), 9097. PubMed ID: 26652302 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ryan, R.M., Fredrick, C.M., Lepes, D., Rubio, N., & Sheldon, K.M. (1997). Intrinsic motivation and exercise adherence. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 28(4), 335354.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schlegl, S., Dittmer, N., Hoffmann, S., & Voderholzer, U. (2018). Self-reported quantity, compulsiveness and motives of exercise in patients with eating disorders and healthy controls: Differences and similarities. Journal of Eating Disorders, 6, 17. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sebire, S.J., Standage, M., & Vansteenkiste, M. (2016). Examining intrinsic versus extrinsic exercise goals: Cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 31(2), 189210. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Solenberger, S.E. (2001). Exercise and eating disorders: A 3-year inpatient hospital record analysis. Eating Behaviors, 2(2), 151168. PubMed ID: 15001043 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Spielberger, C.D., Gorsuch, R.L., Lushene, P.R., Vagg, P.R., & Jacobs, A.G. (1983). Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory (Form Y). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ströhle, A. (2009). Physical activity, exercise, depression and anxiety disorders. Journal of Neural Transmission, 116(6), 777784. doi:

  • Sweeting, H., Walker, L., Maclean, A., Patterson, C., Räisänen, U., & Hunt, K. (2015). Prevalence of eating disorders in males: A review of rates reported in academic research and UK mass media. International Journal of Men’s Health, 14(2). PubMed ID: 26290657

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tabri, N., Wohl, M.J.A., Eddy, K.T., & Thomas, J.J. (2017). Me, myself and money: Having a financially focused self-concept and its consequences for disordered gambling. International Gambling Studies, 17(1), 3050. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thøgersen-Ntoumani, C., & Ntoumanis, N. (2007). A self-determination theory approach to the study of body image concerns, self-presentation and self-perceptions in a sample of aerobic instructors. Journal of Health Psychology, 12(2), 301315. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2008). 2008 Physical activity guidelines for Americans. President’s Council on Physical Fitness & Sports Research Digest, 9(4), 18. Retrieved from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/572a208737013b7a93cf167e/t/57741723725e25842a1c9587/1467225892069/Digest+2008_2008+Physical+Activity+Guidelines_Series+9+Number+4+%28December%29.pdf

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vartanian, L.R., Wharton, C.M., & Green, E.B. (2012). Appearance vs. health motives for exercise and for weight loss. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 13(3), 251256. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verplanken, B., & Orbell, S. (2003). Reflections on past behavior: A self-report index of habit strength. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33(6), 13131330. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wharton, C.M., Adams, T., & Hampl, J.S. (2008). Weight loss practices and body weight perceptions among US College students. Journal of American College Health, 56(5), 579584. PubMed ID: 18400672 doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wickham, H., Averick, M., Bryan, J., Chang, W., D’Agostino McGowan, L., François, R., … Yutani, H. (2019). Welcome to the Tidyverse. Journal of Open Source Software, 4(43), 1686. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilson, P.M., Rodgers, W.M., & Fraser, S.N. (2002). Examining the psychometric properties of the behavioral regulation in exercise questionnaire. Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, 6(1), 121. doi:

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 501 501 49
Full Text Views 5 5 1
PDF Downloads 4 4 1