Otago Polytechnic

Our researchers have been exploring the relationship between exercise and body image.

In Western society body dissatisfaction has become a cultural norm, and the media, including social media, have an influence. Modern ideals of female attractiveness are starting to change, from extreme thinness to a more toned and fit appearance. So does being active in sport and exercise affect women's body image?

Lecturers Gary Barclay and Richard Humphrey worked with Sport and Exercise student Nicole Irvine to study this issue. Volunteers recruited from Facebook were asked to complete a survey which included questions about their exercise and sport behaviour, and their attitudes towards appearance. A Figure Evaluation Scale provided an opportunity for participants to choose which image/s they resembled and which was their ideal. Participants also provided their height and weight so their Body Mass Index could be calculated.

This research found that there was no significant different between the active participants and the non-active participants as to their body dissatisfaction and the effect of perceived media pressure. However the body dissatisfaction of those who exercise increases as they exercise more. This suggests that perhaps women are exercising more for body-image reasons rather than for the benefits for their health and wellbeing.

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HEALTH & WELLBEING

June 2019