Date of Award

August 2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Kinesiology

First Advisor

Lori Klos

Committee Members

Christy Greenleaf, Ann Swartz, Michael Brondino

Keywords

exercise, intuitive exercise, motivation for exercise, positive body image

Abstract

Purpose: To explore three facets of positive body image and motives for exercise as predictors of women’s intuitive exercise and exercise behavior.

Scientific significance: Positive body image has been associated with health-promoting behaviors such as utilizing sun protection techniques and intuitive eating. Despite these findings and the known benefits of exercise, there are no known published studies exploring if positive body image and exercise motivation predict intuitive exercise and exercise behavior in women. Understanding these relationships could facilitate the design of interventions targeting improvements in both psychological well-being and exercise behavior.

Methodology: This cross-sectional study included 391 women (18-91 years; Mage: 49.9 ± 15.7 years; BMI: 28.2 ± 6.9 kg/m2) who completed the Body Appreciation Scale–2, Broad Conceptualization of Beauty Scale, Body Image - Acceptance and Action Questionnaire, Functions of Exercise Scale, and Intuitive Exercise Scale. Participants reported exercise behavior using a 7-day exercise log which was used to calculate exercise behavior in MET minutes per week. Pearson correlations were used to determine interrelationships between study variables; stepwise hierarchical multiple regression was used to determine if facets of positive body image and motives for exercise, and the interaction between these variables, predict intuitive exercise and exercise behavior.

Results: Body appreciation (r = .21), broad conceptualization of beauty (r = .15), filtering information in a body protective manner (r = .17), and weight/appearance motives for exercise (r = -.10) were significantly (p < .05) correlated with intuitive exercise. Body appreciation (r = .11), broad conceptualization of beauty (r = .13), health/enjoyment motives for exercise (r =.31), and weight/appearance motives for exercise (r = .14) were significantly (p < .05) correlated with exercise behavior. Hierarchical multiple regression revealed body appreciation (β = .16) was the only significant (p < .05) predictor of intuitive exercise. Body appreciation (β = -.18), and the interactions between broad conceptualization of beauty and weight/appearance (β = -.17) as well as health/enjoyment motives for exercise (β = .15), and the interaction between filtering information in a body protective manner and weight/appearance motives for exercise (β = -.17) significantly (p < .05) predicted exercise behavior.

Conclusions: Women with a higher body appreciation are more likely to also exercise intuitively. Interventions aiming to increase intuitive exercise should aim to help women appreciate the appearance, function, and health of their body. Women engage in the highest levels of exercise when body appreciation is low, and when they have a narrow conceptualization of beauty and are highly motivated to exercise for weight/appearance-related reasons. However, interventions should be extremely cautious when promoting a narrow conceptualization of beauty and weight/appearance motives for exercise as this may lead to a maladaptive relationship with the body and exercise. To avoid a potentially harmful outcome, researchers should focus on helping women develop a more effective body image filter, perceive beauty in a variety of appearances of body sizes, and increase health/enjoyment motives for exercise. Future research is needed to gain a better understanding of the interrelationships between positive body, exercise motives, intuitive exercise and exercise behavior.

Available for download on Tuesday, March 05, 2019

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