Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Examining the Effects of Sport and Exercise Interventions on Body Image among Adolescent Girls: A Systematic Review

Academic journal article Journal of Sport Behavior

Examining the Effects of Sport and Exercise Interventions on Body Image among Adolescent Girls: A Systematic Review

Article excerpt

Body image has been described as a person's perceptions, thoughts, and feelings about their body (Grogan, 2016). Body image is a multifaceted construct consisting of a variety of measured dimensions (Thompson, 2004; Thompson, Heinberg, Altabe, & Tantleff-Dunn, 1999). This includes perceptual, cognitive, affective and behavioral components (Bane & McAuley, 1998). Body image dissatisfaction (BID), defined as a subjective negative evaluation of one's physical appearance (Presnell, Bearman, & Stice, 2004), has been the focus of much research to date. In Western societies, BID is suggested to be so widespread, particularly among females (Salk & Engeln-Maddox, 2012), that is has been described as normative discontent (Cash & Smolak 2011; Hardit & Hannum, 2012; Rodin, Silberstein, & Striegel-Moore, 1984; Tantleff-Dunn, Barnes, & Larose, 2011).

There is a wealth of research indicating that, across a lifespan, females are more likely to experience BID when compared to their male counterparts (Buchanan, Bluestein, Nappa, Woods, & Depatie, 2013; Elgin & Pritchard, 2006; Feingold & Mazzella, 1998; Sweeting & West, 2002). Indeed, girls as young as five years of age have been found to convey dissatisfaction with their body shape and (or) size (Davison, Markey, & Birch, 2000). As children transition from preadolescence into their next stage of maturity, adolescence becomes a significant phase in the development of body image (Fenton, Brooks, Spencer, & Morgan, 2010; Kostanski, Fisher, & Gullone, 2004). In the present study, we utilised the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines which describes adolescence as occurring between 10-19 years of age. Body image dissatisfaction has been reported to intensify during adolescence, most notably amongst girls, due to the bodily changes that take place during puberty (Bucchianeri, Arikian, Hannan, Eisenberg, & Neumark-Sztainer, 2013; Calzo et al., 2012; Maxwell & Cole, 2012). Furthermore, an increasing regard for the opinions of others during adolescence exacerbates the potential for BID (Reber & Reber, 2001). Despite adolescence presenting a potentially volatile time for body image, previous research has typically focused on young adults, with studies of adolescents being less common (Mellor et al., 2013; Rubin, Gluck, Knoll, Lorence, & Geliebter, 2008; Williams, Ricciardelli, McCabe, Waqa, & Bavadra, 2006).

In looking to develop and deliver body image interventions, there is growing support for the notion that participation in sport and exercise can enhance body image perceptions (Abbott & Barber, 2011; Daniels & Leaper, 2006; Fox, 2000; Hausenblas, Cook, & Chittester, 2008; Langdon & Petracca, 2010; Slater & Tiggemann, 2011; Swami & Tovee, 2009). Three meta-analyses demonstrated small (Campbell & Hausenblas, 2009; Hausenblas & Fallon, 2006) to moderate (Reel et al., 2007) effects of exercise on body image (based on 57, 121 and 35 studies respectively), whereby an exercise intervention had the observed outcome of improved body image. However, the design of any sport and/or exercise intervention must account for the complex nature of the association between body image and motivation to exercise, which may vary according to demographics. The above meta-analysis included broad demographic samples (males and females across a broad age range), and thus it is difficult to inform interventions for female adolescence with confidence. Whilst a desire to improve body image can act as a motivator to exercise in certain individuals, for others, it may present an obstacle for exercise participation (Focht & Hausenblas, 2004; Schuler et al., 2004). For example, Slater and Tiggemann (2010) noted that females (aged 13 to 15 years) frequently reported appearance-based concerns as a reason for ceasing participation in sport and exercise. In a follow up study, teasing and body image concerns appeared to contribute to reduced rates of participation in sports and other physical activities among adolescent girls (aged 12 to 16). …

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