The Role of Body Weight and Exercise in Body Cathexis and Body Image of Young Women Aged 15-25
Keywords:body image, body cathexis, body weight, exercise, adolescence
The purpose of this study was to examine the relation between body weight and exercise with body cathexis and body image in a sample of adolescent girls and young women. In the study participated 150 female students aged 15-25 years. Data were selected with the Leisure - Time exercise Questionnaire – 7 Days Recall (Godin & Shephard, 1985), the scale of body cathexis (Tucker, 1981; Theodorakis et al., 1990), and the scale of body image (Theodorakis, 1999). Body weight was reflected in the Body Mass Index (BMI) which was calculated by the self reported weight and height. According to the results, the participants with lower BMI were more satisfied with their body image, and the more they exercised, the higher their body cathexis was (p<.05). Participation in sport activities contributed to a better cathexis score, which means more positive attitudes towards one’s body and outer appearance. Sport participation and exercise contributed in a better body image but these differences were not significant. In conclusion, the results of this study pinpoint factors which contribute to the formation of healthy behaviours. The results imply the need for appropriate health education interventions at school, and the adoption of an appropriate health and physical education curriculum as well as personal initiative in regards to regular physical activity.