The effects of exercise on the body image of female baby boomers

Christina Marie Merckx

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of twelve weeks of resistance-training and walking exercise on the body image of female baby boomers in the Southeastern United States. Participants' body image was assessed using the Multidimensional Body Self Relations Questionnaire (Cash, 2000). The health and fitness indicators or women in this age group were also accessed. The investigation utilized a pre/post-test, experimental, control group design. Participants (n = 35) were women between the ages of 38 and 56 (mean age = M = 46.2, SD = 5.20), and randomly assigned to one of three groups; the resistance-training group (n = 17), the walking group (n = 10), and the non-exercise control group (n = 8). A multiple analysis of variance (MANOVA) was utilized to evaluate the effects of exercise and time on the variables of body image, fitness, and health of female baby boomers. No statistically significant difference was found on the effect of time, group, or group x time interaction for body image. However, a statistically significant difference was found to exist of the effect of time on the fitness indicators of female baby boomers ( F (3,28) = 22.391, p = .001), while no statistically significant difference was found on the effect of group and group x time interaction for fitness indicators of female baby boomers. Lastly, a statistically significant difference was found to exist on the effect of time on indicators of health (F (5,60) = 2.855, p = .034), while no differences were found to exist on the effect of group and group x time interaction for the health indicators of female baby boomers. The lack of statistical significance for the variables of body image was seen as an important finding. Significance has been found in similar studies using younger participants. Because body image is a key component to holistic health it should be evaluated further within this population. Meaningful and statistically significant differences were found in the fitness and health indicators of participants. Therefore women who are part of the Baby Boom Generation should be encouraged to participate in resistance-training and walking exercise in order to improve their overall health.