Physical activity and self-esteem: testing direct and indirect relationships associated with psychological and physical mechanisms

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2016 Oct 12:12:2617-2625. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S116811. eCollection 2016.


In the present study, we investigated the relationship between physical activity (PA) and self-esteem (SE), while introducing body mass index (BMI), perceived physical fitness (PPF), and body image (BI) in adults (N =264, M =38.10 years). The findings indicated that PA was directly and indirectly associated with SE. BMI predicted SE neither directly nor indirectly, but was directly associated with PPF and both directly and indirectly with BI. Furthermore, PPF was directly related to BI and SE, and a direct association was found between BI and SE. The pattern of results suggests that among a sample of adults, PA is directly and indirectly associated with SE, PPF, and BI, but not with BMI. PA, PPF, and BI appear to play an important role in SE. Accordingly, regular PA should be promoted, in particular, among adults reporting lower SE.

Keywords: adults; body image; physical activity; physical fitness; self-esteem.