Comparing positive body image in resistance-training and non-resistance-training women


Measures of positive body image significantly predict well-being and are shown to be lower in women as compared to men. Physical activity (PA) and athletics are positioned as strategies to enhance positive body image in women. Resistance training as a subtype of PA has been understudied as a unique strategy to enhance positive body image, likely due to its association with hypermasculinity and competition. The current study compared measures of positive body image, including body appreciation, functionality appreciation, and body-related authentic pride in young adult women (Mean age = 25.6) who self-reported resistance training (n = 139) or not (n = 261), while controlling for aerobic activity, perceived weight, and ethnicity. Self-perception of physical strength was explored as a mediator in the relationship between resistance training and measures of positive body image while controlling for covariates. Women who reported engaging in resistance training scored significantly higher on measures of body functionality appreciation (d = .48, p = .02), fitness-related authentic pride (d = 1.28, p < .001), and appearance-related authentic pride (d = 0.54, p = .006). No significant group differences were observed for body appreciation (d = 0.48, p = .06). Self-perceived physical strength partially mediated these relationships. Based on these results, women who engage in resistance training report better body image which may be underscored by increased perceptions of physical strength, suggesting that further research is needed to focus on intervention work integrating resistance training into programs aimed at fostering positive body image.