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Exercise use vs. exercise abuse, comparing the motivation and body image of healthy and unhealthy exercisers

by Farrell, Robin J.

Abstract (Summary)
The purpose of this thesis was to examine the influence of exercise motivation and body image on exercise behavior (using a multi-method approach), in order to better undentand the phenomenon of unhealthy exercise. The first phase of this study was quantitative, and served to compare the exercise motivation (using Self-Determination Theory, Deci & Ryan, 1985) and perception of body image of "healthy" and "mhealthy" exercisers using a questionnaire. Specifically, 233 exercisers (102 males, 13 1 females) completed a questionnaire compiled of a self-reported exercise behavior scale (Salonen & Lakka, 1987), the Cornmitment to Exercise Scale (Davis et al., 1993), the Sport Motivation Scaie (Pelletier et al., 1995), and the Body Cathexis Scale (Tucker, 1981). The self-reported exercise behavior scale and the Cornmitment to Exercise Scale were used to divide exercisers into b'healthy " and b'unhealthy" groups. With regards to exercise motivation, MANOVA results revealed that "unhealthy" exercisers in group I displayed higher levels of both introjected regulation, identified regulation, and intrinsic motivation than "healthy" exercisers in group 4. Analysis of gender differences indicated that female exercisers displayed higher levels of intrinsic motivation, and overall, scored higher on the self-determinedmotivational index than men, who displayed higher leveis of extemal regulation and motivation towards their exercise behavior. No significant differences were revealed between " healthy " and ''unhealthy" exercisers on the quantitative body image measurement. In order to obtain a deeper, more cornplex, understandingof the phenomenon of unhealthy exercise specifically, a second qualitative phase (Phase 2) consisted of interviewhg 4 exercisers (2 males, 2 females) identified in Phase 1 as having the most "unhealthy" exercise behaviors. For this phase, a semi- Exercise Abuse 10 stmctured interview guide was developed to assess participants' reasons for exercising, feelings about their bodies, and whether body Mage iduenced their exercise behavior. In support of the quantitative motivation hdings, interview data reveded "guilt" as a motivating factor for ''unhedthy" interviewees, supporthg high scores of introjected regulation on the questionnaire. With regards to body image, despite non-significant quantitative outcornes on the body image measuiement, results fiom the interviews suggest that body image does influence "unhealthy" forms of exercise behavior. Findings are discussed in light of past literature, and theoretical and practical implications for the assessrnent of "unhealthy" exercise behavior are addressed. Recommendations for further study pertaining to the "unhealthy" exercise phenornenon are discussed. Exercise Abuse Il
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Source Type:Master's Thesis

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Date of Publication:01/01/1999

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