Participate in online research: Exercise knowledge and reasoning

What is it all about? This study is about exercise knowledge and attitudes and introduces a new test of exercise knowledge and reasoning. It is being run by researchers at the University of Edinburgh

Who can take part? Anyone who is over 18 can take part.

What is involved? The study involves filling in an online questionnaire which includes a test of your exercise knowledge and reasoning ability. It also asks your opinion about exercise and about what kind of exercise you do or might intend to do in the future. All answers are confidential.

How long does it take? The questionnaire is in 2 sections which are completed 2 weeks apart. The first section takes around 30 mins to complete, the second section (2 weeks later) takes around 20 mins to complete.

Any questions? Email the researchers at

To participate, click this link and you will be directed to the online questionnaire:


Addicted to exercise?

Addicted to Exercise?

What is Exercise Dependence?

Recent times have seen a sharp rise in the attention paid to so-called ‘behavioural addictions’ such as internet, sex, shopping and gambling addictions. Exercise dependence, defined as ‘obsessive and unhealthy obsession with exercise’ is beginning to emerge as another such addiction. As a candidate for a behavioural addiction it dates back to the 1970s when researchers noticed that it was surprisingly difficult to procure habitual exercise participants willing to abstain from exercise for any extended period of time. At the time, however, research was hindered by scepticism and conceptual confusions. Not only were there doubts that exercise dependence was possible, even where the possibility of exercise addiction was entertained, there were serious doubts as to whether it was really not just a result of an underlying eating disorder. Further, a proliferation of measurement scales, definitions and terminologies of varying degrees of relatedness to one another meant that it was never exactly clear when one was measuring or discussing exercise dependence as opposed to some other related construct.

The symptoms of Exercise Dependence

Nowadays the concept remains controversial but we at least have a better idea of what we mean when we speak of ‘exercise dependence’. The concept is defined with respect to the DSM’s diagnostic criteria and involves 7 major symptoms:

1.Withdrawal Symptoms such as anxiety or fatigue associated with abstaining from exercise
2.Continuance Continuing to exercise despite being ill or injured
3.Tolerance When there is a need to increase exercise to achieve a desired effect or the diminishing effects of the same amount of exercise with continued use.
4.Lack of control Inability to reduce amount of exercise.
5.Reduction in Other Activities Other activities are reduced at the expense of engaging in exercise.
6.Time Spending a large amount of time engaged in activities necessary to obtain exercise.
7.Intention Effects Exercising for longer or in a larger amount than intended.


What is the evidence for Exercise Dependence?

Exercise dependence is controversial both because some doubt its existence and also because some question whether it is sensible to pathologise what they view as a fairly harmless or trivial set of behaviours. There is evidence, however, that those who report experiencing the above symptoms do exercise more than their non-dependent counterparts, are more prone to injury and experience some mood disturbances associated with not exercising. This suggests that there is indeed some similarity between people who view themselves as dependent on exercise and those who are addicted to psychotropic substance and that there may be adverse consequences associated with this. Of course, there really is a need for further research in the area before exercise dependence can be considered to be fully established as a behavioural addiction.


Why does it matter?

There are two reasons why exercise dependence is potentially of interest. The first is that exercise dependence may be harmful to the sufferer. Not only is dependence in itself associated with disruptions to psychological and social functioning irrespective of the behaviour in question (e.g. because it may cause a person may spend inordinate amounts of time exercising rather than in work or socialising or feel intense negative feelings when deprived), the excessive exercise associated with dependence can also be physically and psychologically harmful. People who exercise excessively are at greater risk of injuring themselves, of becoming ill and experiencing mood symptoms.

The second reason why exercise dependence may be an important concept is because it might help us to understand what causes people to take up and maintain exercise. Many people do not exercise enough and researchers have struggled to find interventions to change people’s behaviour to increase their participation. If we can identify the factors that motivate the high levels of exercise in exercise dependence, perhaps these principles can be applied to those who do not currently get enough exercise to help encourage them to be more physically active. For example, many of the hypotheses attempting to explain exercise dependence point to the fact that it produces an increase in positive emotions which are rewarding and increase the likelihood of engaging in the behaviour in future. Recent research has shown that emotional responses to exercise are also important in determining exercise participation in healthy individuals. Perhaps studying exercise dependence can help us work out the factors that produce optimal emotional responses and inform interventions in sedentary individuals.


Further Reading

Allegre, B., Souville, M., Therme, P. & Griffiths, M. (2006). Definitions and measures of exercise dependence. Addiction Research and Theory, 14, 631-646.

Hamer, I. & Karageorghis, C.I. (2007). Psychobiological mechanisms of exercise   dependence. Sports Medicine, 37, 477-484.

Hausenblas, H.A. & Symons Downs, D. (2002). How much is too much? The development  and validation of the exercise dependence scale. Psychology & Health, 17, 387-404.

Hausenblas, H.A., Gauvin, L., Symons Downs, D. & Duley, A.R. (2008). Effects of  abstinence from habitual involvement in regular exercise on feeling states: An ecological momentary assessment study. British Journal of Health Psychology, 13,   237-255.





A collection of psycolemanballs from essays, presentations, articles and conversations from academic psychology.

Please send more examples!

The biggest tool is myself’ Consultant clinical psychologist on therapeutic tools

Parapsychology is paedoscience. Discuss’ Misreading of essay question

The existence of working memory is confirmed by the fact that amnesics can play bridge’ Essay via @j0ns1m0ns

Opponent neurons are excited by head’ Colour perception presentation

Subjects were broken down by age and sexEssay via @DeevyBee

Results from 12 participants were excluded from analysis because sandstorms interrupted their tests.’ From Ogunnaike, O., Dunham, Y., & Banaji, M.R. (2007) The language of implicit references. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 999-103, Via @Green_Minds


…ability tests such as Raven’s  matresses’  Out of the mouth of @Pandapaaw

Thanks so much to everyone who contributed!

Exercise and emotion study

This study looks at exercise and emotion and participation involves completing  an anonymous online questionnaire in two parts, each taking about 5 minutes (the information sheet says 10 minutes but participant feedback indicates that this is an overestimation).  The questionnaire asks about your feelings and attitude towards exercise as well as your exercise behaviour. The study is open to all adults. For further information/to participate you can go to this link:

Update: This study is now closed. Thank you so much to everyone who took part! Will post a summary of results once I have analysed the data.