The exercise dependence at the time of COVID-19 pandemic: The role of psychological stress among adolescents


  • Michele De Candia University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Italy
  • Roberto Carvutto University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Italy
  • Luca Galasso University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Italy
  • Marcello Grimaldi University of Bari "Aldo Moro", Italy



Physical activity, Aerobic exercise, Eating disorders, Psychological stress, Recreational sport activity


The outbreak of COVID‐19 disease caused not only unprecedented concerns about public health but also critic stress-related disorders, especially in the younger population. Several studies have found a close connection between psychological stress and exercise dependence, resulting from coping strategies such as excessive perfectionism in controlling external factors, performance, controlling food intake, weight, and body image. Moderate amounts of exercise have been demonstrated to reduce psychological distress. Thus, the aim of the present study has been to analyse the relationship between psychological stress and exercise dependence symptoms in adolescent, concerning the COVID-19 period. Participants were 50 adolescents (aged 15-17) who trained twice a week for 90 minutes per session. They were randomly assigned to participate in either a highly controlled and supervised recreational physical activity program associated with theoretical lessons that were intended to provide information regarding nutritional education (EG; n = 25) or a waitlist control group (CG; n = 25). The physical activity program involved: joint mobility exercises, low-to-moderate intensity aerobic exercise, team-building activities, exercise stations, cardio workout. At baseline and after intervention programs we administered the Exercise Dependence Scale-21, a 21-items scale designed to assess exercise dependence symptoms, and the Perceived Stress Scale that measures the level at which situations in life are perceived as stressful (p < .01). The findings have suggested that after a 12-week recreational physical activity and food re-education, adolescents felt a greater sensation of psycho-physical well-being and that this phenomenon was closely linked to an improvement of the symptoms of exercise dependence.


No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this manuscript.


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How to Cite

De Candia, M., Carvutto, R., Galasso, L., & Grimaldi, M. (2021). The exercise dependence at the time of COVID-19 pandemic: The role of psychological stress among adolescents. Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 16(4proc), S1937-S1945.