Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department or School


Committee Member

Karen Saules, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Ellen Koch, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tamara Loverich, Ph.D.


A long-standing health initiative has been the recommendation for individuals to engage in regular physical activity because of its numerous physical and mental health benefits. However, engaging in “excessive exercise” is a compensatory behavior found in eating disorders. The present study sought to better understand exercise as both a health- and risk-behavior. Undergraduates (N = 1010) completed an online survey assessing disordered eating and exercise behavior. Results revealed that among individuals who engaged in a low level of physical activity, exercising for socializing reasons conferred risk for disordered eating, whereas higher socializing exercise motives were associated with lower disordered eating behavior. Findings suggest that it may be particularly useful to know how often individuals engage in exercise when they have high socializing motives. Future research should examine the Exercise Benefits/Barriers Scale (EBBS) to investigate individuals’ simultaneous reasons for engaging in exercise and barriers to participating in exercise.