Compulsive exercise has been closely linked with eating disorders, and has been widely reported in both clinical and nonclinical settings. It has been shown to have a negative impact on eating disorder treatment and outcome. However, the risk factors for compulsive exercise have not been examined. This study aimed to provide a first step in identifying potential cross-sectional predictors of compulsive exercise.
The sample consisted of 1,488 male and female adolescents, aged 12–14 years old, recruited from schools in the United Kingdom. Participants completed measures of compulsive exercise, personality, psychological morbidity, and disordered eating attitudes during a school class period.
Multiple stepwise regressions showed that the strongest cross-sectional predictors of compulsive exercise were a drive for thinness, perfectionism, and obsessive-compulsiveness.
These results are discussed in terms of the role that personal factors may play in the development of compulsive exercise. © 2011 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.