Bodies in nature: Associations between exposure to nature, connectedness to nature, and body image in U.S. adults

Body Image. 2016 Sep:18:153-61. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2016.07.002. Epub 2016 Jul 29.


Here, we sought to replicate previous work showing a relationship between connectedness to nature and body appreciation, and extend it by examining associations between exposure to natural environments and other body image-related variables. An online sample of 399 U.S. women and men (Mage=34.55 years) completed measures of body appreciation, connectedness to nature, nature exposure, appearance investment, sociocultural attitudes towards appearance, and self-esteem. Path analysis showed that nature exposure and connectedness to nature, respectively, were associated with body appreciation in women and men, both directly and indirectly via self-esteem. Connectedness to nature also mediated the link between nature exposure and body appreciation. In men, but not women, the link between connectedness to nature and body appreciation was also mediated by appearance investment and internalisation of a muscular ideal. These results may point to novel methods for promoting more positive body image in adults through engagement with nature.

Keywords: Body appreciation; Body image; Connectedness to nature; Nature exposure; Self-esteem.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Emotional Adjustment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nature*
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult