Does exercise addiction exist among individuals engaged in team-based exercise? A position paper

Griffiths, M.D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8880-6524, Landolfi, E. and Szabo, A., 2023. Does exercise addiction exist among individuals engaged in team-based exercise? A position paper. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. ISSN 1557-1874

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Exercise addiction is a term used to describe dysfunctional exercise behavior characterized by the classic symptoms of addictions, which eventually result in physical, psychological, or social harm to the affected individual. While well over 1000 peer-reviewed papers on problematic exercise have been published, very few studies have explored the conceptual differences between team-based and individual-based exercise, and no previous study has critically addressed this issue. The rationale for this distinction is that team-based exercise is typically organized and scheduled by others with little or no control over its timing by the individual team member. On the contrary, individual-based exercise can be self-scheduled. Consequently, more (total) control over its timing facilitates the satisfaction of craving-induced urges characterized by an addiction. It is posited that exercise addicts, in general, are “lone wolves” in the context of their addiction. Therefore, being addicted to exercise in team sports is only possible if the individual resorts to additional individually-controlled exercise above and beyond team-based training. To support this position, the present paper briefly reviews the few studies conducted in this area and examines how their results match the diagnostic interpretation of “addiction.” The present position paper highlights that “control” over the addictive behavior, in this case, exercise, is an important marker in the potential for the risk of exercise addiction. Therefore, future studies should consider that team-based exercise assigns little control to the individual. However, the extent to which additional individual-based exercise occurs and poses a risk of addiction within team exercises merits further research attention.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction
Creators: Griffiths, M.D., Landolfi, E. and Szabo, A.
Publisher: Springer
Date: 27 March 2023
ISSN: 1557-1874
Rights: © the author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 30 Mar 2023 10:40
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2023 10:44

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