Prevalence and Predictors of Exercise Addiction – A Comparison between High School and College Students in the United States


There is a growing recognition of exercise addiction (EA), which is characterised by uncontrollable and excessive exercise resulting in physical and psychological problems. This study aimed to examine the prevalence of EA and compare its predictors in high school and college students in the United States. 533 high school (mean age = 17.39) and 1240 college students (mean age = 21.69) returned data on EA, personality traits, social support, social anxiety, and self-efficacy; 9% (n =48) of high school students and 4.4% (n =55) of college students were at risk of EA. There were significant differences in neuroticism, extraversion, social support, and self-efficacy between the high school and college populations. Current education level was a significant predictor of EA, hence multiple regression analyses were conducted separately for the high school and college populations. Higher levels of conscientiousness, extraversion, and self-efficacy significantly predicted a higher risk of EA for both high school and college students. However, higher levels of neuroticism, social anxiety, and social support were significant predictors of EA only among high school students. These factors explain 36.5% and 7.8% of the variance in EA for high school and college students respectively. This implies that there may be different motivations to engage in EA. Compared to college students, high school students may be more susceptible to peer pressure to engage in and commit to exercise. If different profiles of exercise-addicted individuals exist, this suggests that interventions to reduce the occurrence of exercise addiction should be tailored to the target population.

Author Information
Kai Qi Gan, National University of Singapore, Singapore
Catherine So-Kum Tang, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Paper Information
Conference: ACP2020
Stream: General Psychology

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon