2013, Volume 5, Issue 2

Examining body image and its relationship to exercise motivation: An 18-week cardiovascular program for female initiates with overweight and obesity

Erin S. Pearson1, Craig R. Hall2

1Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciencies, School of Kinesiology, Lakehead University
2Faculty of Health Sciencies, School of Kinesiology, Western University

Author for correspondence: Erin S. Pearson; Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciencies, School of Kinesiology, Lakehead University; email: erin.pearson@lakeheadu.ca

DOI: 10.2478/bjha-2013-0012

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Background: A healthy body image is related to better psychological well-being and can also impact one’s likelihood to engage in health promoting behaviours such as exercise. To date, there has been a paucity of research investigating the relationship between body image and Self-Determination Theory’s motivational regulations as a function of exercise participation. The purpose of this study was to examine these constructs
over the course of an 18-week cardiovascular-based program for female initiates aged 18-45 with overweight and obesity.
Material/Methods: Participants (n = 37; mean weight = 83.8 kg; mean waist circumference = 38.3 inches) were provided with a personalized exercise program and asked to complete the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire and the Behavioural Regulations in Exercise Questionnaire-2 at four different time-points (i.e., baseline and every six weeks).
Results: Significant improvements to body image constructs were observed over time indicating that feelings of satisfaction with aspects of appearance, as well as physical attractiveness were enhanced (e.g., Appearance Evaluation, p<0.001, η2 = 0.59). Participants also felt increasingly invested in being physically fit up to week 12 of the program (e.g., Fitness Orientation, p<0.01, η2= 0.19). Significant relationships were observed between appearance-related body image and the more self-determined forms of exercise motivation (e.g., Body Areas Satisfaction and Intrinsic Regulation, r= 0.50, p= 0.001).
Conclusions: Implications of focusing on these variables within physical activity interventions are discussed and underscore the important role that body satisfaction plays with respect to exercise motivation in this particular population.

Key words: body image, exercise motivation, physical activity, women, overweight/obesity