The aim of the present systematic review was to identify psychometric tools developed to assess problematic exercise in order to identify and compare their theoretical conceptualisations on which they are based.
A systematic literature search was conducted in the electronic databases Web of Science, Scielo, PsychINFO, PsycTEST and SCOPUS from their inception to January 2020.
Seventeen assessment instruments met the eligibility criteria to be included in the present review. The instruments were classified according to their conceptualisation into five groups: (i) problematic exercise as an end of an exercise continuum, (ii) problematic exercise as a means of regulating body size and weight, (iii) problematic exercise as dependence, (iv) problematic exercise as a behavioural addiction and (v) no clear conceptualisation.
The results suggest that the conceptualisations of the assessment instruments have resulted in a strong dichotomy in relation to the primary or secondary character of the problematic exercise that might be limiting the capacity of the instruments to adequately capture the multidimensionality of this construct.
Given the interest in understanding the complexity surrounding the problematic exercise, future research should develop more comprehensive definitions of this construct. This would allow a greater conceptual consensus to be reached that would allow progress to be made in the study of the problematic exercise.