The motive behind the connection between exercise and positive body image

  • Alyssa Jackson Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, Brock University
  • Kimberley L Gammage Department of Kinesiology, Brock University
  • Larkin Lamarche Brock-Niagara Centre for Health and Well-Being

Abstract

Positive body image is defined as an overall love and acceptance of the body. It is distinct from negative body image, but has received much less investigation in the literature. Further, most research examining positive body image and exercise behaviour has focused on young adults, primarily women. The purpose of the current study was to determine if exercise motives related to appearance and fitness would moderate physical activity and positive body image in men and women across the lifespan. Participants included community dwelling men and women (n = 455; age range 18-89 years). Participants were grouped according to age: young adults (18-35 years; n=157), middle age adults (36-55 years; n=153) and older adults (56 years or older; n=145). Participants completed the Body Appreciation Scale-2, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (short), and the Exercise Motivations Inventory-2. A series of moderated hierarchical regressions were conducted to determine whether exercise motives (appearance, weight control, strength and endurance, and nimbleness) moderated the relationship between moderate-vigorous physical activity and body appreciation. Results indicated that weight management and appearance motives moderated the relationship between physical activity and body appreciation for young men and women. Furthermore, analysis showed that strength and endurance as well as nimbleness motives moderated the relationship for younger men and women, as well as older women. Further research should continue to explore the relationship between positive body image and exercise across the lifespan.