January 17, 2012
Addressing Over-Exercise and Eating Disorders
Adrian A. Shepard
Coordinator of Integrated Wellness
Winona State University
The college experience prepares young adults for meaning, purpose, and success by providing the tools necessary for living well-balanced lifestyles. Life-long learning transcends the classroom and extends well into student life and, more specifically, campus recreation. Recreation significantly impacts and influences the lives of college students via the missions set forth by campus recreation departments and woven into the fabric of university life. With an overall shift towards whole person wellness how do we address high-risk behaviors such as over-exercise and eating disorders occurring within the campus recreation setting?
Questions seeking best practices and the identification of universities with established protocols for addressing over-exercise and eating disorders in campus recreation are routinely posed through professional association listservs and at conferences. Though few, campus recreation literature specific to the subject including the role campus recreation professionals can play and suggested strategies has been published in the Recreational Spots Journal (RSJ) in 1989 and 1998.
In December 2009 an Institutional Review Board (IRB) and National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA) research clearinghouse approved study was administered to NIRSA members about over-exercise, anorexia, and bulimia. The NIRSA National Center (NNC) identified a sample population that included one professional from each of the NIRSA member institutions with a professional fitness and/or wellness employment position. During a two-week span 128 of 258 people responded for a 50% response rate. In 2011, the results and implications were published by RSJ in an article titled Assessing Over-Exercise, Anorexia, and Bulimia in Campus Recreation.