Orthorexic eating behaviors related to exercise addiction and internal motivations in a sample of university students

  • Crystal D. OberleEmail author
  • Ryan S. Watkins
  • Andrew J. Burkot
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Orthorexia Nervosa



This research explored the exercise tendencies and motivations of individuals varying in orthorexia symptomatology.


Participants were 411 university students, who completed the Eating Habits Questionnaire alongside measures of exercise activity and addiction in Study 1 (a modified version of the Leisure-Time Exercise Questionnaire, the Exercise Addiction Inventory, and the Compulsive Exercise Test) and various exercise motivations in Study 2 (the Behavioural Regulations in Exercise Questionnaire and the Exercise Motivations Inventory-2).


Orthorexia symptomatology was positively correlated with aerobic and strength-training exercise levels; all measures of exercise addiction; all measures of internal exercise motivation; and nearly all measures of exercise motivation for the purposes of psychological, social, health, and body improvement. Symptomatology was not significantly related to either measure that specifically assessed external motivation to exercise.


Individuals high in orthorexia symptomatology are internally driven to exercise for the purposes of improving their physical and mental health, but these strong motivations also lead to exercise addiction characterized by a compulsive need to follow a rigid schedule of intensive exercise even in the face of injury, illness, or other problems.

Level of evidence

Level V, descriptive cross-sectional study.


Orthorexia Exercise activity Exercise addiction Exercise motivation 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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.

Informed consent

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


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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