Exercise addiction is associated with emotional distress in injured and non-injured regular exercisers

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  • Mia Beck Lichtenstein, University of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Rasmus Oestergaard Nielsen
  • Claire Gudex, University of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Cecilie Juul Hinze, Region of Southern Denmark
  • ,
  • Uffe Jørgensen, University of Southern Denmark

Introduction: Exercise addiction is characterized by the use of physical activity to cope with emotions and mood, while sports injuries can lead to psychological distress such as depression and anxiety. The aim of the present study was to investigate the association between risk of exercise addiction and psychological distress, and whether this association was modified by injury status. Methods: A cross-sectional study with injured and non-injured recreational exercisers (n = 1083). Using the Exercise Addiction Inventory participants were classified into the following groups: High risk of exercise addiction (HREA) with musculoskeletal injury (n = 44); HREA without musculoskeletal injury (n = 31); Low risk of addiction (LREA) with injury (n = 563); LREA without injury (n = 445). The outcomes were depression using the Major Depression Inventory, and emotional stress using the Perceived Stress Scale. Data were analyzed using binomial regression analysis with prevalence proportion difference (PPD) as measure of association. Results: Compared with LREA-exercisers, more HREA exercisers were depressed (PPD = 13% points [95%CI 3.6; 22.4]) or experienced emotional stress (PPD = 26.2% points [95%CI 14.5; 37.8]). Amongst injured exercisers, more HREA exercisers had depression (PPDHREA-injured = 15.9% points [95%CI 2.5; 29.3]) compared with LREA-exercisers. Conclusions: Recreational exercisers with high risk of exercise addiction reported more symptoms of depression and emotional stress, and this relationship seemed exacerbated in the presence of musculoskeletal injury. Psychological assessment and counseling may be useful supplements to somatic injury interventions for addressing emotional distress.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAddictive Behaviors Reports
Pages (from-to)33-39
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

    Research areas

  • Depression, Exercise addiction, Quality of life, Sport injury, Stress

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