The relationship between body-related self-conscious emotion and physical activity across the lifespan


Body image refers to the perceptions and attitudes (thoughts, feelings, and behaviors) people have about their own bodies. Although body image has generally been investigated as a negative construct, it can also be positive, and these appear to be distinct constructs. Research has shown that physical activity is associated with improved body image. Recently, interest has turned to examining self-conscious emotions (i.e., guilt, shame and pride) related to the body and how they may be related to physical activity. In young women and men, physical activity is related to body shame (negative) and pride (positive); however, these relationships among a more diverse sample have yet to be investigated. The purpose of this study was to examine whether body self-conscious emotions (shame, guilt, hubristic and authentic pride) were related to moderate-to-vigorous activity between men and women across the lifespan. Two-hundred-and-six women and 144 men between the ages of 18 and 85 years self-reported body-related self-conscious emotions and physical activity. Regression analysis predicting physical activity from the self-conscious emotions, controlling for gender, were statistically significant, and accounted for 12.6% of the variance in physical activity. Gender, guilt, and authentic pride were significant predictors, with self-conscious emotions accounting for 4.6% of the variance in physical activity on their own. Results from this study provides evidence on how moderate-to-vigorous physical activity may promote both negative and positive body image.