Appearance-based exercise motivation moderates the relationship between exercise frequency and positive body image

Body Image. 2014 Mar;11(2):101-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2014.01.003. Epub 2014 Feb 12.


Individuals with a positive body image appreciate their bodies, hold an internal perspective of their bodies, and are satisfied with the functionality of their bodies. Research shows that positive body image is more complex than the absence of body dissatisfaction. Although exercise reduces women's body dissatisfaction, very little research has explored how, or even whether, exercise is associated with positive body image. Therefore, we examined whether exercise frequency was positively related to three aspects of positive body image (body appreciation, internal body orientation, and functional body satisfaction) among 321 college women. Appearance-based exercise motivation (the extent exercise is pursued to influence weight or shape) was hypothesized to moderate these associations. Hierarchical moderated regression analyses showed that exercise frequency was related to higher positive body image, but high levels of appearance-based exercise motivation weakened these relationships. Thus, messages promoting exercise need to de-emphasize weight loss and appearance for positive body image.

Keywords: Body appreciation; Body function; Exercise; Exercise motivation; Positive body image.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Physical Fitness / psychology
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Students / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult