Exercise dependence score in patients with longstanding eating disorders and controls: the importance of affect regulation and physical activity intensity

Eur Eat Disord Rev. May-Jun 2011;19(3):249-55. doi: 10.1002/erv.971.


Objective: To examine associations among exercise dependence score, amount of physical activity and eating disorder (ED) symptoms in patients with longstanding ED and non-clinical controls.

Methods: Adult female inpatients (n = 59) and 53 age-matched controls participated in this cross sectional study. Assessments included the eating disorders examination, eating disorders inventory, exercise dependence scale, reasons for exercise inventory, and MTI Actigraph accelerometer.

Results: Positive associations were found among vigorous, not moderate, physical activity, exercise dependence score and ED symptoms in patients. In the controls, ED symptoms were negatively associated with vigorous physical activity and not correlated with exercise dependence score. Exercise for negative affect regulation, not weight/appearance, and amount of vigorous physical activity were explanatory variables for exercise dependence score in both groups.

Conclusions: The positive associations among exercise dependence score, vigorous physical activity and ED symptoms need proper attention in the treatment of longstanding ED.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dependency, Psychological*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology
  • Motivation
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires