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Behavioral assessment of the reinforcing effect of exercise in women with anorexia nervosa: Further paradigm development and data




To use a Progressive Ratio (PR) computerized “work” paradigm to measure course and correlates of exercise motivation in in-patients with Anorexia Nervosa (AN).


Sixteen inpatients with AN participated in a PR task assessing the relative reinforcing effect of two different increments of cash versus the opportunity to exercise for upto 30 min, twice; at low weight, and, for n = 10 participants, after weight restoration.


There was a trend toward a higher work for exercise with 2 versus 5 increments of cash as the alternative reinforcer. Exercise breakpoint did not differ between low and normal-weight states. Exercise breakpoint at each time point was correlated with prehospitalization exercise “commitment” (Commitment to Exercise Scale, r = .613, p = .012 at T1; r = .634, p = .049 at T2).


Patients with AN will work at a PR task for access to even a small amount of exercise. Exercise motivation during hospitalization is correlated with prehospital exercise commitment and does not appear to change consistently with weight restoration. © 2009 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2010;)