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Contrasting gender differences on two measures of exercise dependence


Objective: Recent studies using multidimensional measures have shown that men (Exercise Dependence Scale; EDS-R) are more exercise-dependent than women, whereas others have found that women (Exercise Dependence Questionnaire; EDQ) are more exercise-dependent than men. This study investigated whether there may be sex differences in exercise dependence or whether the questionnaires may be measuring different dimensions of exercise dependence.

Design: Regular exercisers voluntarily completed the EDS-R, EDQ and Drive for Thinness (DFT) subscale before or after a workout.

Setting: A local health club in the eastern USA.

Participants: Male (n = 102) and female (n = 102) exercisers completed the three questionnaires, but 11 participants (1 man, 10 women) were excluded from further analysis because scores indicated possible secondary exercise dependence (eating disorder).

Primary outcome measures: Eight subscales of the EDQ, seven subscales of the EDS, the DFT subscale, and several demographic variables served as dependent measures.

Results: A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) on the EDS-R showed that men were significantly higher than women on the Withdrawal, Continuance, Tolerance, Lack of Control, Time, and Intention Effect subscales. Another MANOVA on the EDQ indicated that women scored significantly higher than did men on the Interference, Positive Rewards, Withdrawal, and Social Reasons subscales. Statistical analysis using t tests revealed that men had significantly higher total EDS-R scores than women, but women had significantly higher EDQ and DFT scores.

Conclusion: These results suggest that both questionnaires measure different aspects of exercise dependence that favour either gender. It remains for further research to determine whether these instruments are equally viable for measurement of ED in both men and women.

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