Group Differences on Incidence of Obligatory Exercise Behaviors and Level of Body Size Dissatisfaction

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Exercise and Sport Studies



Major Advisor

Linda M. Petlichkoff


Genger Fahleson


Chad Harris


My involvement in the fitness industry during the past five years has led me to believe aerobic instructors may be doing a disservice to themselves and the people they serve. That is, I have witnessed individuals who exhibit some very disturbing behavior. These behaviors have included such things as compulsive exercise and pathological weight control behaviors (i.e., fasting, using diet pills, diuretics, and laxatives, and self-induced vomiting). Moreover, some individuals have adopted poor body image (i.e., being dissatisfied with body size and shape despite being thin by social standards). Three women who I have worked with, for example, weighed around 100 pounds, were assessed at 12-15% body fat, and appeared to me to have an ideal body type. However, after they taught their aerobic classes, one would run for miles, another used diet pills to curb her appetite, and still another drank slim fast and worked out incessantly. It appeared that competition was raging among these women to determine who could be the thinnest and, in their opinion, “look the best.”

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