With only about 10 percent of Americans regularly active, Hausenblas stresses the number of people who become addicted to exercise is relatively small.
"Exercise is beneficial, and it becomes a negative thing in very few people," she said. "However, even a good thing taken to an extreme can be bad."
The study also looked at the reasons people exercise termed exercise imagery to determine if there were differences between men and women.
Exercise imagery is divided into three categories: appearance, energy and technique. Those who exercise to change their physical form exhibit appearance imagery, while energy imagery exercisers work out for the benefit of feeling better physically and psychologically. Technique imagery is when exercisers work to improve their method by rehearsing the same movements repeatedly.
Among men, exercise dependence was related to energy imagery while among women this tendency was related to appearance imagery, the study found.
The participants, who ranged in age from 18 to 25 and were all physically active and enrolled in sport and fitness classes, were given three separate questionnaires asking them to assess their exercising habits.
While Hausenblas's research looked only at physically active university-age students, the findings likely would be similar for active adults of other ages, she said.
Her suggestion to all exercisers: Remember that too much of a good thing working out, in this case can have harmful effects on well being.
Craig Hall, a professor of health sciences and kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario who has conducted similar research, said Hausenblas' findings undoubtedly will lead to further studies.
"In our own exercise research we have consistently found differences between men and women, with women usually being more concerned about appearance than men," Hall said. "However, exercise d
Contact: Heather Hausenblas
352-392-0584 x 1292
University of Florida