Researchers say the psychological effects of exercise could help prevent and treat eating disorders.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, exercise could be used as an intervention for — or even a way to prevent — eating disorders.
“When it comes to eating disorders, exercise has always been seen as a negative because people use it as a way to control their weight,” says Heather Hausenblas, an exercise psychologist at theUniversity of Florida. ” But for most people, exercise is a very positive thing.”
Hausenblas says results of her research show it’s not necessarily bad for people with disordered eating to engage in exercise. In fact, she says, “The effects on self-esteem, depression, mood and body image can reduce the risk of eating pathologies.”
Psychology of exercise
Researchers surveyed 539 normal-weight college students, most of whom were not at risk for eating disorders. They evaluated the students’ drive to be thin, along with their exercise habits and risk for exercise dependence and used statistical models to find potential relationships.
They found that, more than its physical benefits, the psychological effects of exercise could help prevent and treat eating disorders. The findings are reported in European Eating Disorders Review.
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