Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Exercise dependence?

Well some studies just make you go "eh?"

Exercise dependence and the drive for muscularity in male bodybuilders, power lifters, and fitness lifters.

Researchers have hypothesized differences in exercise dependence and drive for muscularity between bodybuilders and power lifters, while others have not found the predicted differences. This study assessed 146 weight lifters (bodybuilders, n=59; power lifters, n=47; fitness lifters, n=40) on the Exercise Dependence Scale, Bodybuilding Dependence Scale, and the Drive for Muscularity Scale. Results showed that bodybuilders and power lifters were significantly higher than fitness lifters on EDS Total, 7 EDS scales, and the 3 BDS scales. In contrast, power lifters were found to be significantly higher on DMS Total and DMS Behavior scales than bodybuilders. The regression results suggest that exercise dependence may be directly related to the drive for muscularity.

First of all it is surprising that there are three scales:

  • Exercise Dependence;
  • Bodybuilding Dependence; and
  • Drive for Muscularity.

So the more muscular you want to be, the more addicted you are to exercise. No real surprise, but it does make you think about how much exercise is driven by body image.... It is like Keith Thomas said about body image, in the context of Americans, but I think it is generally true about Britain too:

American popular culture, more than any other, is obsessed with body shape and images on American websites are generally representations of the website owner’s ideal or of people in progress along a before and after sequence. One of the most popular search terms which brings people to my website is ‘ideal male body shape’, but they’ll be disappointed to find uninspiring but honest pictures of me there – plus a critical discussion of the recent obsession with male body shape.

I am all for looking good but surely there is more to it ...... like health?


jleeger said...

Another good post!

Being in the fitness/training world, and being an "exercise addict" myself, I've begun to wonder about our ideas around self-image, and whether or not they're actually connected to "health" at all.

I know for me, starting out, it wasn't about health whatsoever. It was about looking like Arnold. Or Bruce Lee. I could never make up my mind...hahaha.

Health came into it later, when I worked for Fresh Fields (later to be bought by Whole Foods) in VA. They did the scare-tactic brainwash treatment on me, Clockwork Orange style, with organic sustainably farmed toothpicks holding my eyelids open.

I still wonder what "health" is. The body image thing, I feel pretty comfortable admitting that that was basically all culturally dictated for me as a kid.

At this point, I'm an addict. I don't want to quit. Ever. I want to get stronger and stronger.

But I am getting more and more interested in "health." Does that mean I'm old?

Indomitable Spirit said...

Hi Chris

Good stuff here.

Definitely when I started exercising it was about losing weight and improving body shape. The health part was incidental, useful but incidental nevertheless.

Now I have a slightly more enlightened idea about exercising, but there is still an underlying element of improving body composition through increasing my fitness.


Hans Hageman said...

It took me until my 50's to figure out that health and function rule. I am now on a crusade with the young athletes I work with to not make my mistakes. I still remember, though, the 18 year-old desire for the big arms!

Glenn said...

This post made me laugh (not in a bad way, I thought it was very interesting). As you said, the study seems to be a bit of an exercise stating the obvious. "So the more muscular you want to be, the more addicted you are to exercise."
But 'm even suspicious of the terms "dependence" and "addicted." Let me guess how this is defined: Bodybuilders and powerlifters don't like missing workouts. They are annoyed if they can't get to the gym. Working out is important part of their lives.

Nice blog.

Body building tips said...

Nice post!