Category: Eating Disorders

Symposium

Body Dissatisfaction Moderates the Relationship Between Social Anxiety and Exercise Frequency: An Ecological Study

Saturday, November 18
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Location: Cobalt 502, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Exercise | Social Anxiety | Ecological Momentary Assessment
Presentation Type: Symposium

Exercise positively impacts physical and mental health (Paxton et al., 2010), yet certain individuals who may benefit from exercise are less likely to engage in it. For example, individuals who are high in (a) social anxiety or (b) body dissatisfaction tend to exercise less (Levinson et al., 2013; Neumark-Sztainer et al., 2006). Given that exercise is often a social activity and one that is focused on the body, it seems likely that social anxiety and body dissatisfaction might magnify each other to impact exercise frequency. We used ecological momentary assessment (EMA) (N = 129 female college students) to examine the moderating effect of body dissatisfaction on the relationship between three types of social anxiety (fear of negative evaluation [FNE], social appearance anxiety [SAA], and social interaction anxiety [SIA]) and later exercise behavior. We measured each variable using EMA four times per day for seven days (28 time points). Data were analyzed with hierarchical linear models using cross-lag analyses. Body dissatisfaction moderated the relationship between SIA (b = -.32, p < .001) and later exercise. Body dissatisfaction also moderated the relationship between FNE (b = -.56, p < .001) and later exercise. Specifically, both higher SIA and higher FNE predicted higher later exercise for individuals low and average, but not high in body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction did not moderate the relationship between SAA (b = -.16, p = .33) and later exercise. Individuals high in general social fears (i.e., SIA and FNE) and body dissatisfaction may be less likely to exercise because of fears of how others may evaluate their bodies. Body dissatisfaction may not impact exercise in individuals with social fears related to appearance (i.e., SAA) because they focus on their appearance regardless of how dissatisfied they feel with their body. Targeting body dissatisfaction may be important to increase exercise behavior in individuals high in both body dissatisfaction and general social anxiety.

Leigh C. Brosof

Student
University of Louisville

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Body Dissatisfaction Moderates the Relationship Between Social Anxiety and Exercise Frequency: An Ecological Study



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