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Indexed/Abstracted in: Chemical Abstracts, CINAHL, Current Contents/Clinical Medicine, EMBASE, PubMed/MEDLINE, Science Citation Index Expanded (SciSearch), Scopus
Impact Factor 1,111
Online ISSN 1827-1928
Hesdon B. 1, Salmon P. 2
1 Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
2 Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
Aim. Sources of motivation for intense physical exercise are poorly understood. Based on views that link such behaviour to preexisting psychopathology, we tested the hypotheses that history of childhood sexual abuse would be greater in intense exercisers than in non-exercisers, and that effects of abuse on self-esteem, perfectionism and body dissatisfaction would help to explain any link between abuse and exercise.
Methods. Consecutive attenders at two types of exercise were recruited: weight training and running. Sedentary attenders at a further education college provided a third, comparison group. Each group contained 64 men and 64 women. Participants completed questionnaires to record history of sexual and physical abuse in childhood and adulthood, body dissatisfaction, self-esteem, and positive and negative perfectionism.
Results. Adult, but not childhood abuse, was reported by more weight-trainers than others. Abused individuals were more anxious and depressed, were more negative about themselves and were more concerned with avoiding failure in general. Women abused in childhood were more concerned with avoiding failure at exercise in particular.
Conclusion. These results suggest hypotheses that link adult abuse to intense weight training habits and, in women, that link child abuse to feelings of failure in exercise.