We studied the prevalence and possible association between exercise addiction and health in indoor cycling practitioners. In 1014 (492 women) adult indoor cyclists and 926 (597 women) controls with low levels of physical activity according to the short form of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, we examined the risk of exercise addiction according to the Exercise Addiction Inventory and several health outcomes through a web-based experiment. The prevalence of a high risk of exercise addiction in cyclists was 13.3%, and it was higher in men than in women (16.5% vs. 10.0%, p = 0.002). Women cyclists with a high risk of exercise addiction had higher levels of physical activity (p < 0.001; effect size = -0.62, 95% CI: (-0.91, -0.32)) and anxiety symptom severity (p = 0.001; Effect Size (ES) = -0.59 (-0.89, -0.30)) than those with a low risk. For both sexes, cyclists with a low risk of exercise addiction had better social function, emotional role, and anxiety symptom severity compared with the controls (all p < 0.002; ES ranged from 0.25 to 0.47). Higher anxiety symptom severity and cardiorespiratory fitness were the main determinants of exercise addiction in cyclists (both p < 0.001). Our data suggest the importance of considering exercise addiction in indoor cyclists.
Keywords: anxiety; exercise addiction; fitness; health outcomes; indoor cycling.