Excessive exercise in eating disorder patients and in healthy women

Jonathan M. Mond*, Rachel M. Calogero

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    103 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: In order to elucidate the nature of excessive exercise among individuals with eating disorders, exercise behaviours were compared between eating disorder patients receiving specialist treatment and healthy women, and between subgroups of patients. Methods: Self-report measures of obligatory exercise, motivation for exercise and frequency of hard exercise for weight or shape reasons were completed by eating disorder patients (n = 102) and healthy women (n = 184). Results: The experience of intense guilt when exercise is missed and exercising solely or primarily for reasons of weight, shape or physical attractiveness, were the exercise behaviours that most clearly differentiated between women with eating disorders and healthy women. Patients with the purging form of anorexia nervosa (n = 13) and those with bulimia nervosa (n = 41) tended to have higher scores on measures of these behaviours than those with the restricting form of anorexia nervosa (n = 15). Conclusions: Research addressing the prevalence and correlates of excessive exercise in eating disorder patients would benefit from a broader assessment of exercise behaviour than has typically been used in previous studies. In addition, the findings may indicate specific targets for the clinical management of excessive exercise as well as for community-based health promotion initiatives.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-234
    Number of pages8
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Anorexia nervosa
    • Bulimia nervosa
    • Eating disorders
    • Exercise


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