No Pain, No Gains: Conformity to Masculine Norms, Body Dissatisfaction, and Exercise Dependence


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Abstract

Although exercise can facilitate physical and mental health, excessive exercise can be deleterious to men’s health. Although there is a wealth of research on the link between body image concerns and excessive exercise among women, this relationship remains understudied among men. In addition, gender role socialization’s role in excessive exercise remains overlooked. Therefore, the present study examined how body dissatisfaction (i.e., muscle and body fat dissatisfaction) may mediate the effect of conformity to specific masculine norms on self-reported exercise dependence (i.e., uncontrollable excessive exercise behavior that manifests in physiological and psychological symptoms) using a sample of 632 U.S. community men who were primarily White and heterosexual. Results indicated that muscle dissatisfaction, but not body fat dissatisfaction, mediated the effects of the norms of Winning, Violence, and Playboy on exercise dependence. Winning, Emotional Control, Risk-Taking, and Power Over Women also evidenced direct effects on exercise dependence. Implications for practice and the importance of testing the generalizability of this model across social locations are discussed.

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