Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Michael Ramsey

Thesis Professor Department

Kinesiology, Leisure and Sport Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Brandi Eveland-Sayers, Patrick Cronin


Exercise can have very beneficial effects on health and body satisfaction, but sometimes a negative body image gets in the way of exercising. Modern society holds certain beauty ideals in high regard, and these standards are often unattainable and unrealistic. These outside pressures to look a certain way can have a very negative effect on an individual’s body image, or the way that a person perceives his or her own appearance. There have been many studies done that have attempted to define the relationship between body image with exercise behaviors (Burger and Diony 2002, Hall and Pearson 2013). Some studies have shown that a negative body image is related with higher prevalence of exercise, while others have shown that a negative body image is a major barrier to participation in exercise at all (Berry, McHugh, and Pankratow 2013, Burger and Diony 2002, Gammage and Lamarche 2012, Hall and Pearson 2013). While the data from these studies has shown different relationships, there is an abundance of research on the topic. There is a lack of information, however, on the relationship between body image and exercise type. This study focused on this relationship in an attempt to determine if body image, positive or negative, had any effect on what type of exercise activities an individual chose to participate in. A total of 70 undergraduate college students were surveyed using a 9 question health and exercise questionnaire and a 6 question body image survey, written and published by Thomas Cash and previously utilized in other body image survey studies (Cash, et al. 2002). The data collected was analyzed using chi-square tests and a significant correlation between body image and exercise type, as well as body image and gender. Participants with a negative body image reported a preference for aerobic exercise while those with a positive body image preferred anaerobic exercise. The analysis also found that females were more likely to have a negative body image than males, which supports previous research trends (Burger and Diony 2002). This study only surveyed 70 individuals, and so the results can not necessarily be generalized to the entire population. Further research could include a larger sample size so as to find a more generalizable relationship between body image and exercise type.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.