Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado

Faculty Sponsor

Katie Kage


Perceptions of an ideal body image constructed by Western culture has led body dissatisfaction levels to increase significantly in the past 30 years. Researchers have found that individuals tend to have inaccurate perceptions of their body shapes that leads to body dissatisfaction. Minimal research however, has been done focusing on the relationship between body image and specific exercise behaviors. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand how someone’s own body perception affects their exercise behavior, type and frequency. A total of 30 participants were observed for 20 minutes focusing on behaviors like concentration, body surveillance, and confidence while exercising. Participants also answered a questionnaire about current workout routine, motivational reasons to exercise, and body size. Using the observations and questionnaires, relationships between body image and exercise behaviors were established. Results showed that participants who were less satisfied with their body shape engaged in higher levels of body surveillance behaviors and performed less efficient workouts. These results can help fitness and wellness professionals understand potential behaviors of individuals with a distorted body image and better help them achieve desired health outcomes.

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