Category: Eating Disorders

Symposium

Exercise Regulates Anxiety and Stress Differently Among Individuals With Higher and Lower Levels of Disordered Eating

Saturday, November 18
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: Cobalt 502, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Exercise | Eating Disorders | Ecological Momentary Assessment
Presentation Type: Symposium

Individuals with eating disorders often use exercise to regulate high levels of negative affect. Anxiety and stress are specific aspects of negative affect that are associated with the maintenance of eating disorders. However, it is unclear how exercise impacts anxiety and stress among individuals with high vs. low levels of disordered eating in daily life. The current study tested the moderating effect of bulimic symptoms and body dissatisfaction on the relationship between: (1) daily stress and anxiety with later exercise behavior and (2) daily exercise behavior with later stress and anxiety. Female college students (N = 129) completed the Eating Disorder Inventory - 2 (Garner, 1991). Participants then completed measures of anxiety, stress, and exercise four times daily across 7 days using an automated cell phone ecological momentary assessment system. Data were analyzed with hierarchical linear models using cross-lag panel analyses. Time varying predictors were disaggregated into their mean levels across all assessments and their deviation, at each assessment, from their mean. Bulimic symptoms significantly moderated the relationship between daily stress and later exercise (p = 0.03), such that higher daily stress predicted higher later exercise in individuals who were low and average (but not high) in bulimic symptoms. Body dissatisfaction moderated the relationship between daily stress and later exercise (p =. 001), such that higher daily stress predicted higher later exercise in individuals who were low and average in body dissatisfaction, but lower later exercise in individuals who were high in body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction moderated the relationship between daily exercise and later stress (p = 0.03) and anxiety (p = 0.005), such that individuals who were high in body dissatisfaction experienced higher daily anxiety after exercising, whereas individuals who were low and average in body dissatisfaction experienced lower stress after exercising. Our findings suggest that exercise may have different effects depending on individuals’ level of body dissatisfaction and bulimic symptoms. Our findings may help clinicians determine for whom therapeutic exercise might be particularly beneficial.

Margarita Sala

Graduate Student
Southern Methodist University

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Exercise Regulates Anxiety and Stress Differently Among Individuals With Higher and Lower Levels of Disordered Eating



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