Other directedness and impaired limits: The impact of early maladaptive schema on exercise dependence

  • Rebekah M. Rankin
  • Paul A. Read
  • Benjamin R. Walker
  • Paul M. RankinEmail author


While a sedentary lifestyle is a one of the most pressing health concern in western society, there appears to be a minority of individuals who exercise compulsively and in excess. Relatively little research has examined the factors leading exercise to transition from a healthy and sociable habit to one that is potentially pathological, addictive, and physically damaging. The present study examined the possible impact of early maladaptive schema (EMS) and implicit self-esteem on exercise dependence (EXD) in a cohort of Australian cyclists. A total of 136 cyclists completed the Young Schema Questionnaire Short-Form Revised, Self-esteem Implicit Association Test and Exercise Dependence Scale Revised to assess EMS, implicit self-esteem and for EXD symptomology. Early maladaptive schema, specifically the domains “other directedness” and “impaired limits”, accounted for a significant proportion of the variability in self-reported EXD symptomology. Additionally, a significant proportion of this cohort exhibited EXD symptomology irrespective of socio-demographic characteristics. These findings indicate that individuals who have an excessive external focus on the desires and needs of others, and/or are unable to set appropriate internal limits, may be at higher risk of developing EXD symptomology than individuals with lower levels of specific EMS. Therefore, understanding the relationship between EMS and EXD may aid in understanding the etiology of EXD and the development of intervention strategies.


Exercise dependence Early maladaptive schema Implicit self-esteem Cyclists 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Ethics consent was obtained from Monash University Research Human Ethics Committee (MUHREC), Approval #1507).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Conflict of Interest

Author Rebekah M. Rankin declares that she has no conflict of interest. Author Paul A. Read declares that he has no conflict of interest. Author Benjamin R. Walker declares that he has no conflict of interest. Author Paul M. Rankin declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychological SciencesMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Lifestyle Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher EducationSydneyAustralia

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