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Title: The effects of exercise on body image in young men and women
Author: Townsend , Daisy
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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Whilst there is clear potential in proposing that exercise is beneficial to body image, equivocal findings and small effect sizes demonstrate that further investigation into the mechanisms that affect this relationship is required. Additionally, established exercisers have been predominately recruited and so little is known about the journey of new exercisers. In order to address these gaps in the literature, study one was a qualitative exploration of the body image experiences of 14 newly exercising men and women. Study two aimed to expand on the qualitative findings from study one by tracking the body image of 365 new exercisers, regular exercisers and non-exercisers for six months and examining whether the effects of exercise on body image were moderated by the exercise environment and exercise motivations. Study three experimentally examined the immediate effects of one particular feature of the fitness centre environment, watching appearance-focused music videos whilst exercising, in 119 sedentary women. Study four consisted of semi-structured interviews with 16 individuals who had taken part in study two but had dropped out of an exercise regime. Taken together, the research presented in this thesis demonstrates that although engaging in exercise is generally associated with improvements in body image satisfaction in new exercisers, once exercise is established minimal improvements to body image occur. Furthermore, it seems that sustained exercise is required for the positive exercise- induced changes 10 remain. Therefore future interventions must focus on adherence to an exercise regime outside of the intervention delivered. Moreover, important factors such as the exercise environment and motivations to exercise can gte.:1.tly Affect this relationship. First, it appears that exercise environments where appearance is emphasised can exacerbate appearance concerns. Additionally, whilst social motivations appear to be associated with improved body image satisfaction, interviews and quantitative data indicate that exercising for appearance is associated with an increased likelihood of dropping out of an exercise regime. Consequently, the positive effects of exercise are dependent on a number of factors, including exercise status, motivations and the exercise environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available