Introduction: Physical distancing under the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic had a significant impact on lifestyles, including exercise routines. In this study, we examined the relationship between mental health and addictive behaviors, such as excessive exercise and the use of image and performance enhancing drugs (IPEDs) across 12 sport disciplines. Materials and methods: A large cross-sectional sample of the adult population (N = 2,295) was surveyed. The mean age was 33.09 (SD = 11.40). The number of male participants was 668 (30.0%). The use of IPEDs was assessed in conjunction with psychometric measures such as the Exercise Addiction Inventory (EAI) and the Appearance Anxiety Inventory (AAI). The participants were grouped into activity group (AG) and non-activity group (NAG) according to the presence or absence of their exercise habits. The results were compared between these groups, as well as across sport disciplines, while taking into account the relationship between different psychological measures and IPEDs consumption. Results: The frequency of IPEDs use was higher among AG (34.6%) than NAG (14.6%), although AG participants reported less history of addictions (7.1%) than NAG (11.8%). The logistic regression analysis revealed that scores equal to or above cutoff points, in both the EAI and AAI, predicted the IPEDs use. Regarding the differences across the various sport disciplines, those who were involved in practicing Weight Lifting and Cross Fit were found to be more at risk of excessive exercising and more inclined to use a wide range of IPEDs. Conclusions: Although exercise could help to increase well-being and prevent addictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, our results show that those in the AG are particularly vulnerable to excessive IPEDs use. Sport disciplines associated with higher EAI and AAI scores have also shown a higher tendency to excessive IPEDs use. Furthermore, the factor of having above the cutoff scores in EAI or AAI in each sport could indicate larger IPEDs consumption regardless of the discipline. In light of the current findings, it is necessary to better define the “non-excessive” levels of exercise in various sport disciplines and an adequate intake of IPEDs to ensure the safety and well-being of people during a pandemic.
- excessive exercise