Obligatory Exercise Questionnaire (OEQ)


The Obligatory Exercise Questionnaire (OEQ) is a self-report questionnaire that measures the tendency of individuals to engage in excessive exercise. The OEQ was developed by Linda Pasman and James Thompson in 1988 (Pasman & Thompson, 1988).


Obligatory exercise is defined as exercise that is performed in a rigid, inflexible, and compulsive manner. Individuals who engage in obligatory exercise often feel the need to exercise even when they are injured or ill, and they may experience negative emotions such as anxiety or guilt if they miss a workout.


The concept of obligatory exercise was first introduced by James Brožek in 1963 (Brožek, 1963). Brožek proposed that obligatory exercise was a form of addiction, and he suggested that it could be treated with psychotherapy.


The OEQ consists of 20 items that are rated on a four-point Likert scale. The items measure the following dimensions of obligatory exercise:

  • Exercise frequency and intensity
  • Exercise preoccupation
  • Exercise emotionality
  • Exercise dependence

The OEQ has been shown to be a reliable and valid measure of obligatory exercise. The questionnaire has been used in a variety of studies to investigate the correlates of obligatory exercise, including eating disorders, body image dissatisfaction, and anxiety.


  • Pasman, L. A., & Thompson, J. K. (1988). Body image and eating disturbance in obligatory runners, obligatory weightlifters, and sedentary individuals. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 7, 759-769.
1.      I engage in physical exercise on a daily basis.
2.      I engage in one/more of the following forms of exercise: walking‚ jogging/running or weightlifting.
3.      I exercise more than three days per week.
4.      When I don’t exercise I feel guilty.
5.      I sometimes feel like I don’t want to exercise‚ but I go ahead and pushmyself anyway.
6.      My best friend likes to exercise.
 7.      When I miss an exercise session‚ I feel concerned about my body possibly getting out of shape
8.      If I have planned to exercise at a particular time and something unexpected comes up (like an old friend comes to visit or I have some work to do thatneeds immediate attention) I will usually skip my exercise for that day.
9.      If I miss a planned workout‚ I attempt to make up for it the next day.
10. I may miss a day of exercise for no good reason.
11. Sometimes‚ I feel a need to exercise twice in one day‚ even though I may feel a little tired.
12. If I feel I have overeaten‚ I will try to make up for it by increasing the amount I exercise.
13. When I miss a scheduled exercise session I may feel tense‚ irritable or depressed.
14. Sometimes‚ I find that my mind wanders to thoughts about exercising.
15. I have had daydreams about exercising.
16. I keep a record of my exercise performance‚ such as how long I work out‚ how far or fast I run.
17. I have experienced a feeling of euphoria or a high during or after an exercise session.
18. I frequently push myself to the limits.
19. I have exercised when advised against such activity (i.e. by a doctor‚ friend‚ etc.)
20. I will engage in other forms of exercise if I am unable to engage inmy usual form of exercise. 
This instrument can be found online at: http://shell.cas.usf.edu/birw/m_n/scale/OEQ.htm
For more information contact:
J. Kevin Thompson‚ Ph.D
Department of Psychology
University of South Florida
4202 Fowler Ave
Tampa‚ FL 33620-8200

Pasman‚ L. J. & Thompson‚ J. K. (1988). Body image and eating disturbance in obligatory runners‚ obligatory weightlifters‚ and sedentary individuals. International Journal of Eating Disorders‚ 7 (6)‚ 759-769.

Also‚ see Ackard et al.‚ (2002). Eating Disorders: 10‚ 31-47‚ for a recent psychometric evaluation of this paper‚ or contact John J. Steffen at: [email protected].