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Title: Self-perceptions and well-being of women exercisers : a grounded theory approach
Author: O'Neill, Susan
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the relationship between exercise and well-being of women exercisers. There is conclusive evidence that regular exercise protects against many somatic complaints, as well as being effective in improving many mental health conditions, especially among clinical populations. Although there is a wealth of research investigating the' relationship between exercise and subjective well-being, the primary mechanisms underlying this relationship is still not fully understood. Much psychology research has focused only on the biological mechanisms of the health effects of exercise, to the exclusion of why or why not people exercised, and how it affected them. It was clear that understanding the meaning of participants' experiences with exercise and how they perceived it influenced subjective well-being had not been investigated. This research used a grounded theory methodology in an attempt to understand the meaning given to this experience. The findings revealed a complex, psychosocial process beginning prior to exercise participation. Deconstructing physical activity from individual, social, and historical perspectives appear to place the exercise/subjective well-being phenomenon not in the realm of the biological person, but as a social construction, linked to the influence of gender roles. The findings show that the exercise well-being relationship appears to be the result of the cognitive appraisals attached to it, that self-prescribing of the exercise components is more conducive to creating wellbeing, and comparison processes are crucial in understanding the exercise/wellbeing relationship. The primary message emerging from the project is that exercise should be about ' feeling good about the self. For this to be achieved, beliefs and attitudes need to be reconstructed both at a societal and individual level. Expanding the meanings around physical activity may potentially provide more choice for women (and others). In addition, exercise needs to move towards a preference-based model of exercise participation, incorporating preference-based social and temporal comparisons.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available