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Addict Behav. 2018 Dec 23. pii: S0306-4603(18)30863-3. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.12.030. [Epub ahead of print]

Which sports are more at risk of physical exercise addiction: A systematic review.

Author information

1
Clinique des Maladies Mentales et de l'Encéphale (CMME), Hôpital Sainte-Anne, 1 Rue Cabanis, 75014 Paris, France; INSERM U894, Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences (CPN), Université Paris Descartes, PRES Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France. Electronic address: laura.dilodovico@yahoo.com.
2
Secteur 3, Hôpital Sainte-Anne, 1 Rue Cabanis, 75014 Paris, France.
3
Clinique des Maladies Mentales et de l'Encéphale (CMME), Hôpital Sainte-Anne, 1 Rue Cabanis, 75014 Paris, France; INSERM U894, Centre de Psychiatrie et Neurosciences (CPN), Université Paris Descartes, PRES Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France. Electronic address: p.gorwood@ch-sainte-anne.fr.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Excessive physical exercise may evolve into physical exercise addiction, a recently identified entity with many yet unclear aspects, such as global prevalence and variability according to different types of physical exercise.

METHODS:

We systematically reviewed the current literature up to June 2018 to collect all studies screening exercise addiction with two of the most frequently used screening scales: the Exercise Addiction Inventory (EAI) and the Exercise Dependence Scale (EDS).

RESULTS:

We detected forty-eight studies (20 using the EAI, 26 the EDS, and 2 both scales) reporting variable point prevalence of exercise addiction risk, depending on the target population and the investigated sport. The EAI identifies a higher proportion of people at risk for physical exercise addiction among endurance athletes (14,2%) followed by ball games (10,4%), fitness centre attendees (8,2%) and power disciplines (6,4%), while a frequency of 3,0% was reported in the general population. Studies using the EDS found discrepant results.

DISCUSSION:

This systematic review suggests that sport disciplines are associated with different vulnerability for physical exercise addiction. Besides the different addictive potential of each sport, the heterogeneity of results may be also due to socio-demographic and cultural characteristics of the target populations. The EAI and the EDS identify different proportions of individuals at risk for exercise addiction both in general population and in specific sport categories. As the EAI screens a higher proportion of subjects at risk, especially in endurance disciplines, it could be more appropriate for early detection of at-risk subjects and/or disciplines.

CONCLUSION:

Tailored prevention strategies for each discipline could help better preserving benefits of sports. More precision in research methods and the use of the most appropriate scale are required to allow a better comparability of prevalence among physical exercise disciplines and in general population.

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