Fitness Enhancement and Changes
in Body Image
KATHLEEN A. MARTIN
CATHERINE M. LICHTENBERGER
Over the past two decades, a growing body of research has attempted to validate the notion that improvements in physical fitness are associated with improvements in body image. To date, much of this research has consisted of correlational and cross-sectional studies that have compared body image between exercisers and nonexercisers. Not only have these studies produced equivocal results, but the nature of their designs has been inappropriate for drawing conclusions about the effects of exercise-induced fitness change on body image change. In order to draw conclusions, the effects of systematic exercise interventions on both fitness and body image need to be examined. Only a handful of published studies have done so. The results of these studies are summarized in this chapter, which examines fitness change and other potential mediators of the exercise–body image relationship. The chapter also discusses potential moderators of the exercise–body image relationship, and the implications of the current state of knowledge for developing exercise interventions and advancing research.
AND BODY IMAGE CHANGE
There seems to be an inherent assumption within the exercise and body image literature that exercise produces changes in fitness, which, in turn, lead to changes in body image. "Fitness" encompasses level of cardiorespiratory endurance (or aerobic fitness), muscular strength and endurance, flexibility,