Sociocultural correlates of compulsive exercise: Is the environment important in fostering a compulsivity towards exercise among adolescents?

Sociocultural factors hypothesised to be influential in eating disorders were assessed for their relationship with compulsive exercise. A sample of 828 adolescent boys and girls completed measures assessing sociocultural messages to change body shape as well as pressure to be thin, and also measures of compulsive exercise and disordered eating. Results showed that the sociocultural influences differed slightly between boys and girls. Hierarchical regressions showed that, after controlling for disordered eating and BMI, messages to become more muscular and media pressure to be thin significantly predicted compulsive exercise in boys, while the same regression in girls reported only media pressure to be thin as a significant predictor of compulsive exercise. These findings demonstrate the influence of the media in boys’ and girls’ compulsive exercising, as well as highlight the influence of body shape messages to become more muscular on boys’ compulsive exercise.