Background: A large proportion of young Japanese women is inactive. Exercise has important health benefits, however, abnormal weight/eating concerns and excessive dieting practices among physically active young women also have been reported in many cross-sectional studies. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between stages of change for exercise behaviors and exercise/dieting related psycho-behavioral factors using the Transtheoretical Model of behavior change as a theoretical framework.
Methods: A cross-sectional study included 450 young Japanese women aged 18 to 21 (18.4+/-0.67 years). Subjects in precontemplation (n=111, 24.7%), contemplation (n=120, 26.7%), preparation (n=177, 39.3%), action (n=17, 3.8%), and maintenance (n=25, 5.6%) were compared on physique, body composition, current exercise practices, exercise self-efficacy, decisional balance (benefits and costs exercise), as well as dieting behaviors and weight/eating concerns.
Results: Stages of change for exercise behaviors were significantly related to exercise self-efficacy and perceived benefits as well as to dieting behaviors and weight/eating concerns. Subjects in the higher stages had higher self-efficacy, perceived benefits of exercise, and healthy dieting behaviors; however, some of them also had unhealthier dietary practices, higher phobia of obesity and obsession with eating than those in lower stages.
Conclusions: These findings provide support for applying the transtheoretical model of exercise behavioral change to Japanese young women. Additionally, it is also important to pay attention to stage specific psycho-behavioral factors related to their dieting.