Exercise Dependence in Amateur Competitors and Non-Competitor Recreational Exercisers

Zsuzsa Menczel, Mark D. Griffiths, István Vingender, Andrea Eisinger, Judit Farkas, Anna Magi, Barbara Mervó, Gyöngyi Kökönyei, Zsolt Demetrovics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Research has demonstrated that exercising has health promoting effects. However, if habitual sporting activities become uncontrollable, detrimental health consequences can occur among a minority of individuals. Furthermore, such obligatory exercise can cause serious decline in school/work productivity, as well as financial problems, relationship problems, and poor psychological and physical wellbeing. The aim of the present study was to compare characteristics related to exercise dependence (ED) between recreational exercisers and amateur competitors. A total of 1439 participants (41.4 % male; mean age = 32 years) completed a battery of measures including the Exercise Dependence Scale (EDS), SCOFF, Well-Being Questionnaire, and Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale. Results showed that 6.5 % of participants identified themselves as amateur competitive exercisers. Amateur competitors exercised significantly more (6.4 h) than non-competitor recreational exercisers (4.6 h). Amateur competitors also scored significantly higher on the EDS. Significant effects were found between competing and self-esteem concerning ED. Results showed that both features had a strong effect on ED. The study highlights the connection between ED symptoms and lower self-esteem and/or lower levels of subjective wellbeing. These influential factors are worth considering when planning preventive interventions addressing ED for both amateur competitors and non-competitive recreational athletes as well as when promoting sport as a healthy activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)580-587
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Amateur competitors
  • Exercise addiction
  • Non-competitive recreational athletes
  • Self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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