Prospective relations between body image and exercise motivation in women: The role of attunement with exercise


Although intrinsic exercise motivation is associated with sustained exercise behaviour, women continue to report lower exercise engagement compared to men. Attunement with exercise (AWE) is a novel psychological construct that represents a mindset towards exercise that is rooted in mind-body connection, process-orientation, and joyful engagement. Although AWE is theorized to impact autonomous and controlled exercise motivation, this has not been empirically examined. Further, psychosocial indicators of body image, such as self-objectification, body compassion, interoceptive awareness, and exercise-related social comparisons may impact AWE and subsequent exercise motivation. Thus, the present prospective study investigated the indirect effects of AWE in the association between body image and exercise motivation. Self-identified women (N = 395, Mage = 33.81, SD = 12.21) completed two online surveys delivered one-month apart. In a path model, self-objectification (? = -.17, p = .003), exercise-related social comparisons (? = -.18, p < .001), body compassion (? = .38, p < .001), and interoceptive awareness (? = .11, p = .019) were linked to AWE. In turn, AWE was associated with intrinsic exercise motivation (? = .30, p < .001) and introjected exercise motivation (? = -.72, p < .001) one-month later. All indirect effects linking the body image factors to motivation through AWE were supported in the model (p's < .026), which demonstrated good fit (CFI = .98, TLI = .96, SRMR = .03, RMSEA = .05). Cultivating AWE and promoting adaptive body image may support sustained exercise engagement in women by enhancing the quality of women's exercise experiences.