Preliminary evidence for relations between motivation and beliefs related to exercise dependence


  • Aave Hannus



exercise beliefs, achievement goals, exercise motivation, recreational athletes


Individuals engage in physical activity for a variety of reasons which are described by motivational determinants of behaviour. However, very little is known about the motivational antecedents of excessive exercise and exercise dependence. This study aimed to investigate the relationships between various motivating factors and specific beliefs characteristic for exercise dependence. Data were collected from a cross-sectional survey in a sample of volunteer recreational athletes (31 males aged 19–23 years and 54 females aged 18–34 years). Participants completed three questionnaires: Estonian 2 × 2 Achievement Goals in Sport Questionnaire was used to measure tendency to emphasize mastery and performance goals; Modified Estonian Exercise Motivation Questionnaire-2 to measure specific exercise motives; and an original Exercise Belief Scale was designed to estimate behavioural and control beliefs characteristic for exercise dependence. Results indicated that motivational orientation was a significant predictor of beliefs related to exercise dependence. Specifically, multiple regression analysis showed that perceived importance of exercise was significantly predicted by mastery approach and performance approach goals. Withdrawal effects, a hallmark for exercise dependence, could be predicted by mastery approach goals and competitive motive. Low control beliefs indicative for exercise tolerance appeared to be related with performance approach goals and competition motive. However, mastery approach also significantly predicted intentional avoidance of overtraining. Results suggest that beliefs related to exercise dependence are strongly related to various motivational aspects. Further investigation is needed to develop psychological assessment instruments to differentiate between normal and healthy exercise motivation and markers of overtraining and exercise dependence potential.


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