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Some women benefit more from exercise when emphasis is on health, not appearance

COLUMBUS , Ohio A new study suggests that women with chronic issues with their body-image are more likely to benefit from an exercise class where the instructor emphasizes the health benefits of the workout over improved appearance, even if those women chose the class in hopes of improving their physique.

Researchers studied nearly 100 college-aged women who had social physique anxiety a disorder in which someone chronically worries that others are critiquing his or her body.

Women who have this disorder usually are interested in exercise to improve their appearance, but an instructor who emphasizes physique during a workout may deter such students from coming back, said Brian Focht, a study co-author and an assistant professor of health behavior and health promotion at Ohio State University.

Women in the study reported that they enjoyed a step-aerobics class more when the instructor focused on the health-related aspects of the workout, telling them how exercise will make them more fit.

These same women were more likely to say that they would try a similar class in the future, compared to the women who were taught by an instructor who emphasized appearance by making comments about how the exercise would tone their legs or other body parts.

We want to design the most beneficial exercise programs for different groups of people, and understanding how people respond to different approaches to exercise is key to doing so, Focht said. We chose a very specific sample of women that we thought would be sensitive to the comments made by instructors.

The study's results appear in a recent issue of the journal Psychology of Sport and Exercise. Focht conducted the study with Thomas Raedeke and Donna Scales, both researchers at East Carolina University, in Greenville, N.C.

All women enrolled in a required physical activity course at the university answered a questionnaire on exercise and body image. A woma
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Contact: Brian Focht
bfocht@cph.osu.edu
614-292-4216
Ohio State University
9-Aug-2007


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