Effects of Weight Training on the Emotional Well-Being and Body Image of Females: Predictors of Greatest Benefit

Am J Health Promot. May-Jun 1992;6(5):338-44, 371. doi: 10.4278/0890-1171-6.5.338.


Background: This study was conducted to determine the extent to which participation in a weight training intervention was associated with changes in the emotional well-being and body image of females compared to non-weight trainers. An ancillary objective was to study the extent to which psychological, physical, and demographic factors accounted for changes in emotional well-being and body image.

Methods: The experimental group consisted of 60 females, and a comparison group was comprised of 92 females. Experimental subjects participated in a 15-week, two-day-per-week weight training intervention, while subjects in the comparison group did not participate in any weight training activities. Subjects were pre- and posttested on the General Well-Being Schedule and the Body Cathexis Scale. Experimental subjects were also tested in muscular strength and three skinfold measurements.

Results: With pretest scores controlled, the weight trainers had significantly higher General Well-Being and Body Cathexis posttest scores than the comparison group. Weight trainers also showed significant increases in muscular strength, and significant decreases in skinfold thickness. Four variables predicted 38.8% of the variance of those who improved most in General Well-Being: lower pretest General Well-Being, lower parental income, greater loss of body weight, and lower posttest skinfold. Five variables predicted 61.5% of the variance of those women who improved most in Body Cathexis: lower pretest Body Cathexis, greater body weight at the outset, shorter in height, less involvement in non-weight training exercise, and lower posttest skinfold.


MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Image*
  • Cathexis
  • Demography
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Physical Fitness / psychology*
  • Psychological Tests
  • Self Concept*
  • Skinfold Thickness
  • Weight Lifting / psychology*