Open Access

The Body Image Of Physically Active And Inactive Women


Introduction. The aim of the study was to compare the image of the body, the level of its acceptance and satisfaction with it, as well as anxiety about one’s physical appearance and overall self-esteem in a group of adult women who did fitness exercise and those who were physically inactive.

Material and methods. The study involved 464 women aged 18 to 35 years (M=25.49; SD=5.24), including 277 women who exercised regularly in fitness clubs in Warsaw and 187 women who did not engage in regular physical activity. The following instruments were adapted and used for the purposes of the study: the Figure Rating Scale, the Body Satisfaction Scale, the Self-Esteem Scale, the Social Physique Anxiety Scale, and a questionnaire designed by the authors. Student’s t-test was used to determine the differences between the two groups.

Results. There were no statistically significant differences between the groups in terms of actual and ideal body parameters; however, the discrepancies between actual and ideal height and BMI were greater in women who were not physically active. The women who did fitness exercise were less dissatisfied with their overall and facial appearance, and they had higher self-esteem and lower anxiety about their physical appearance that those who were inactive. No significant intergroup differences were found for the subjects’ ideal and actual figures or for those preferred by women and preferred by men, nor for the discrepancies between these figures.

Conclusions. Differences in the body image of adult women who did fitness exercise and those who were physically inactive were revealed for the emotional aspects of body image, but not for the cognitive ones. The differences found in the study are likely to be due to the selection of subjects and they do not provide sufficient evidence to prove that exercise has a positive impact on body image.

Publication timeframe:
4 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Medicine, Clinical Medicine, Public Health, Sports and Recreation, other