Fitness Wearables and Exercise Dependence in College Women: Considerations for University Health Education Specialists
Author ORCID Identifier
American Journal of Health Education
Background: Research has elucidated some harmful aspects of fitness wearable devices including their role in exacerbating disordered eating and exercise behaviors in young adults. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine 1) if use of wearables was associated with exercise dependence and 2) prevalence of compensatory behaviors (CB) in response to not meeting goals set within the wearable. Methods: University students completed an anonymous online survey with the Exercise Dependence Scale-21. Participants also provided information about wearable use and CB (e.g. restricting food) in response to not meeting fitness goals. Multiple linear regression assessed the association between wearable use, CB, and exercise dependence. Results: Majority of participants using wearables reported CB if they did not meet goals set by wearables. Using wearables and engagement in CB were associated with higher exercise dependence scores. Discussion: This study suggests that wearables may exacerbate harmful compulsions, like exercise dependence, and should be recommended with caution by health education specialists. Translation to Health Education Practice: Consequences of wearable use are important to consider in the development of health education materials and interventions promoting wearable use. Certified Health Education Specialists should consider how to address negative aspects of fitness technology in physical activity promotion.
Blackstone, Sarah R. and Herrmann, Lynn K., "Fitness Wearables and Exercise Dependence in College Women: Considerations for University Health Education Specialists" (2020). NIU Bibliography. 581.
School of Health Studies