Date of Conferral







Kimberley Cox


Approximately half of all female adolescents and young adults suffer from body dissatisfaction and, in turn, body image-related health concerns. Poor body image can contribute to various negative health behaviors including low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide. Research indicates a positive relationship between physical activity and self-esteem, and between self-esteem and body image. However, a paucity of research examines the effect of physical activity frequency on the body image of young women with two-like body compositions, as measured by body mass index (BMI). Based on self-discrepancy theory, self-schema theory, and the health belief model, this quantitative study explored the difference in body image in 18- to 20-year-old females within similar BMI categories who differ in physical activity frequency. A survey design was employed to measure BMI and physical activity frequency, the independent variables. Body image was the dependent variable. Participants were 161 females between the ages of 18 and 20 years who were grouped into a BMI category of overweight, normal weight, or underweight based on self-reported height and weight. Participants completed a survey on physical activity frequency and body image from 2 previously developed instruments: rapid assessment of physical activity and body image states scale. An analysis of variance indicated that physical activity frequency significantly affects body image among women in the overweight category, and indicated a positive relationship between physical activity frequency and body image. Findings could promote physical education programs and other organized physical activity programs in communities, and in turn, improve body image within young adult females.