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Original articles  SPORT PSYCHOLOGY 

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2003 June;43(2):213-9

Copyright © 2009 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Relationship of sexual abuse to motivation for strenuous exercise

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.

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