Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Craig Hall

Second Advisor

Dr. Don Morrow

Third Advisor

Dr. Harry Prapavessis


Given the magnitude of health consequences resulting from physical inactivity, a need exists for the development of strategies which enhance adoption of and adherence to exercise programs. Some exercise intervention studies have examined body image change in relation to change in body composition (i.e., the relative amount of fat-free mass vs. fat mass in the body). However, these studies have produced mixed results with some studies showing no relationship between change in body image and change in body composition and others showing a significant relationship. One reason for these mixed findings may be due to how body composition has been measured. The measures used have not been consistent from study to study and often have not been very precise (e.g., simple weight loss). Therefore, one purpose of the present study was to examine body composition changes resulting from participation in an exercise program and how these changes relate to changes in body image. A unilateral focus on scale weight during the initiation of physical activity may not be the best indicator of success as body composition changes resulting from exercise are not always evident by examining weight alone. A paucity of research has been conducted examining the impact of educating new exercisers on the physiological changes that occur as a result of exercise (e.g., changes in fat and fat-free mass). The second purpose of the present study was to compare the effect of providing information on body composition changes obtained by Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA), versus weight change information only on body image, exercise cognitions, and adherence in an 18-week cardiovascular exercise program for overweight women (n = 80; age = 33.39 + 7.6 yr; body mass index = 29.02 + 4.7 kg∕m2). Repeated measures MANOVAs revealed that with respect to body composition there were significant decreases in fat and fat-free mass, as well as weight for individuals who iii completed the study. Significant improvements were found in body image, exercise motivation, social physique anxiety, and self-presentational efficacy. There proved to be no significant relationships between changes in body composition and changes in body image. Moreover, providing body composition information had a minimal influence on the dependent measures examined compared to providing weight change information. It was concluded that a structured 18-week cardiovascular exercise program elicits positive significant changes in body composition and exercise cognitions.



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