Exercise motives and positive body image in physically active college women and men: Exploring an expanded acceptance model of intuitive eating

Body Image. 2015 Sep;15:90-7. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2015.07.003. Epub 2015 Aug 14.


The acceptance model of intuitive eating posits that body acceptance by others facilitates body appreciation and internal body orientation, which contribute to intuitive eating. Two domains of exercise motives (functional and appearance) may also be linked to these variables, and thus were integrated into the model. The model fit the data well for 406 physically active U.S. college students, although some pathways were stronger for women. Body acceptance by others directly contributed to higher functional exercise motives and indirectly contributed to lower appearance exercise motives through higher internal body orientation. Functional exercise motives positively, and appearance exercise motives inversely, contributed to body appreciation. Whereas body appreciation positively, and appearance exercise motives inversely, contributed to intuitive eating for women, only the latter association was evident for men. To benefit positive body image and intuitive eating, efforts should encourage body acceptance by others and emphasize functional and de-emphasize appearance exercise motives.

Keywords: Body acceptance by others; Body appreciation; Body functionality; Exercise motives; Intuitive eating; Positive body image.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Eating
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Feeding and Eating Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intuition*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Self Concept
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Universities
  • Young Adult