Physical activity and body image among males: A meta-analysis


Three meta-analyses conclude that physical activity (PA) is positively related to body image (BI). Historically, PA and BI research has been disproportionately focused on women. For example, the most recent meta-analysis (Campbell & Hausenblas, 2009) extracted 56 effect sizes for women and only 12 for men. Although these authors reported no statistical differences in the effects of PA on BI between men and women, the relatively few studies of men limit the generalizability of the findings. Further, little is known about moderators of the PA-BI relationship among men as existing meta-analyses have failed to separate male and female samples for these analyses. This is noteworthy as many variables (e.g., drive for muscularity) may affect the PA – BI relationship differently between males and females. With increased research regarding male BI in recent years, the purpose of this study was to update meta-analytic evidence regarding the PA – BI relationship among men. A literature search returned 34,758 articles;54 met inclusion criteria. A medium effect size was obtained across all studies (Hedges g=0.571, p<0.001). After excluding outliers and separating studies based on study design, there were medium-to-large effects for randomized controlled trials (k=13, g=0.645, p=0.001), small effects for single-group studies (k=7, g=0.229, p=0.014) and small-to-medium effects for correlational studies (k=27, g=0.471, p<0.001). Moderator analyses were conducted to assess the impact of sample characteristics (e.g., age, BMI) and intervention features (e.g., type/amount of exercise, intervention duration). Overall, PA is positively related to BI among males with various moderator variables warranting further investigation.