Problematic practice of physical exercise (PPPE) has been suggested to be a behavioral addiction. Impulsivity represents a core dimension of behavioral addictions. However, little is known about impulsivity facets in PPPE. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of impulsivity facets in PPPE.
A total of 684 students (between 18 and 25 years) took part in this study and filled up a battery of questionnaire, which consisted of following measures – Global Physical Activity Questionnaire, Exercise Dependence Scale – Revised, and the UPPS Impulsive Behavior Scale. Multiple regression analyses were utilized to investigate the predictive role of each impulsivity facet in PPPE.
Age, the total level of physical activity per day, sex (male), negative urgency, and sensation seeking were found to be significant predictors of PPPE. A categorical analysis of PPPE revealed that negative urgency, positive urgency, and sensation seeking were significantly higher in the dependent category of PPPE.
Associations to negative urgency and sensation seeking might indicate that PPPE serves to regulate or alleviate negative affect or aversive emotional states. Thus, PPPE could be conceptualized as a short-term coping strategy dedicated to relieving negative affective states, like other maladaptive behaviors such as binge eating, binge drinking, or compulsive buying.