OBJECTIVE: 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.
METHOD: 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.
RESULTS: Multiple stepwise regressions showed that the strongest cross-sectional predictors of compulsive exercise were a drive for thinness, perfectionism, and obsessive-compulsiveness.
DISCUSSION: These results are discussed in terms of the role that personal factors may play in the development of compulsive exercise.