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Handbook of Disability Sport and Exercise Psychology$
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Jeffrey J. Martin

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190638054

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190638054.001.0001

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Exercise and Body Image

Exercise and Body Image

(p.379) 35 Exercise and Body Image
Handbook of Disability Sport and Exercise Psychology

Jeffrey J. Martin

Oxford University Press

A major research question in disability exercise psychology is if exercise can positively influence body image. The purpose of this chapter is to review the research on disability, exercise, and body image. Physical activity (PA) may enhance perceptions of body image because people can lose body fat and increase their muscularity. It can also enhance functionality and make activities of daily living easier and help people shift their focus from appearance to body function. PA can reduce the negative evaluations and increase the positive evaluations that individuals with disabilities receive from others. Correlational studies have provided some support for a link between body image and exercise, as social physique anxiety is negatively linked to self-esteem and athletic identity among athletes with disabilities. Qualitative researchers have documented exercisers and athletes proclaiming the importance of PA in helping them feel good about their bodies. Limited intervention research has shown that PA can produce enhanced body image cognitions, such as increased body satisfaction.

Keywords:   physical activity, exercise, sport, self-esteem, body image, disability, social physique anxiety, disability exercise psychology

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