Body image and exercise in people with and without acquired mobility disability

Academic Article


  • Purpose: This study was conducted to determine whether differences existed in self-perceived body image between adults with and without Acquired Mobility Disability (AMD), and whether a relationship existed between exercise and self-perceived body image in adults with AMD. Method: Thirty adults with AMD were paired with 30 able-bodied controls and matched on gender, age, ethnicity and exercise level. Both groups completed the Multidimensional Body-Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ) which measures body image on 10 subscales related to appearance, fitness, health/illness, body-areas satisfaction and weight-related attitude. Results: A 2 × 2 two-way ANOVA, with disability (AMD vs able-bodied) and exercise (active vs non-active) serving as the main factors, was used to examine group differences of each on the 10 subscales of the MBSRQ separately. Results indicated that there was a significant interaction between disability and exercise on Health Orientation [F(1, 56) = 22.46, p = 0.000]. Post-hoc analysis indicated that active able-bodied individuals scored higher on the health orientation subscale than the other three subgroups. No other comparisons on health orientation were significant. There was a significant main effect of disability on appearance orientation [F(1, 56) = 10.44, p=0.002] and health evaluation [F(1, 56) = 10.48, p = 0.002], and a significant main effect of exercise on appearance evaluation [F(1, 56) = 10.75, p = 0.002] and fitness orientation [F(1, 56) = 40.96, p = 0.000]. The AMD group scored higher on appearance orientation than the able-bodied group, whereas the able-bodied group scored higher on health evaluation. The physically active group scored higher than the non-active group on appearance evaluation and fitness orientation. Conclusions: The present study indicated that individuals with AMD rated their body image comparable to the able-bodied controls except in the attention paid to appearance and perceptions about physical health. When taking the effect size of the main effect of exercise into consideration, the members of the active mobility disability group appear to evaluate their physical appearance (appearance evaluation) and health (health evaluation) better, are more concerned with fitness (fitness orientation) and more satisfied with different body parts (body areas satisfaction) when compared to their non-active mobility disability counterparts. The potential role of exercise on improving body image in individuals with mobility disabilities should be systematically investigated.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Yuen HK; Hanson C
  • Start Page

  • 289
  • End Page

  • 296
  • Volume

  • 24
  • Issue

  • 6