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WISSMAN, C. D. (2005). Will Watching You Exercise Improve Your Workouts and Effect Self-esteem?. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 8. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved December 9, 2023 .

Will Watching You Exercise Improve Your Workouts and Effect Self-esteem?

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
The present study examined the effect of observing an individuals exercise frequency on self-esteem. Participants were observed for a total of four weeks, the first two weeks of which were used to determine a workout frequency pattern. Following these two weeks participants were given a series of questioners directed towards indicating self-esteem levels. At this time they were also asked to release their workout timesheets from the fitness center records for a two week observing session. Following the last two weeks of observation the participants were then again given the self-esteem questioner. The results indicated that during the two-week observing session the individuals increased in self-esteem points by .604 for each time they exercised. Indicated that exercise is a way to increase a positive self-esteem.

Exercise in the twenty first century has become a major area of interest in all aspects of the psychology field; from the way exercise improves physical well-being to mental stability. Exercise not only can benefit in a healthier body structure but also can have a positive effect on an individual’s self-esteem and self-perception. Recently there has been an increase in research regarding this topic due to an increase in depression and other mood related areas of mental health in the work place and in school settings. Self- esteem can broadly be defined as encompassing the favorable views one holds regarding one’s self, and is considered a focal aspect of psychological health and well-being (McAuley, Mihalko, & Bane, 1996). With no surprise there has been an abundance of research discussing this connection between physical exercise and mental health. In this 1996 study, the extent to which changes in efficacy and aerobic capacity, as well as the overall exercise participation in the program, were found to be related to changes in physical self-worth In a more recent study the focus was on the role of physical fitness in the life stress process for both psychological and physical well- being (Walter & Nan, 2004). In this study it was found that the more a person exercises, the less psychological and physical symptoms of stress the individual manifests. The more the person exercised the higher the self- esteem, leading the person feeling more satisfied with themselves and their current situations. In this study the participants were given a survey containing questions about their exercise routine and frequency, they then were given two different stressors to measure social and physical stress. It was found that the more exercise and physical activities an individual takes part in, the less likely the individual is to have feeling of depression in regard to the given stressor situation. In a 1999 study the role of gender and self- perception was discussed. The purpose of this study was to examine gender differences in the construct validity of the Physical Self- Perception Profile (Hays, Crocker, & Kowalski, 1999). The results indicated that men were more comfortable with their body composition and in general had a feeling of well-being. The women on the other hand were found to have misconceptions about their body composition, leading them to feel disappointment with their body and themselves overall. The purpose of this study is to see if watching an individual exercise will have a positive effect on their workout routine, and how this will effect self-esteem.


Participants were received from the Missouri Western Baker Family Fitness Center. Twenty individuals participated in this research experiment, all above the age of 18 years old. These participants were users of the fitness center and familiar with the center and its equipment. These participants were gathered from the hours of 6:30 A.M. and 8:00 A.M., Monday through Friday. Each participant was giving an informed consent form to be filled out before participation in the study.

Data collected on participants was gathered using a pre and post test style questioner, as well as a body self esteem questionnaire. These questionnaires were both survey style were answered simply with a pen and paper. The surveys and consent forms were placed in a plain envelope to be distributed to the participants. A copy of the surveys and consent form used is included in the Appendix.

Data was collected by conducting an observational period of two weeks on subjects in the fitness center to compile a set of baseline workout schedules. After the two weeks of observing fitness routines, the observed individuals were asked to participate in the study for two weeks. At this time each participant was given the pre- test surveys and then were asked for consent to obtain their fitness center records. The participants were then individually observed for two weeks, after this two-week session the post- test surveys were then administered. The participants were then split up into two groups, the “regular” workout group and the “sporadic” workout group. These groups were determined in the two-week post observing session. If an individual workout on a regular schedule for the two-week session they were then placed in the regular group. If an individual only worked out for a few days of the week with no set pattern they then were placed in the “sporadic” workout group.

A multiple linear regression was calculated to predict subjects¡¦ ending self-esteem scores. A significant regression equation was found (F(2,17)=198.05, p<.001), with an Rƒ¢ƒnof .959. Subjects¡¦ predicted ending self-esteem is equal to 4.731 + .857(pretest) + .604(Number of days exercising after given pretest). Subjects increased .604 self-esteem points for each day they came in to exercise. No other variables were significant predictors.

It was hypothesized that the participants in both the “regular” workout group and the “sporadic” workout group would have an increase in their workout frequencies. It was also proposed that the participants in both groups would have an increase in self-esteem points. After completion of the study, it was found that both groups had an increase in both their workout frequencies as well as self-esteem points. As the results indicated in the Walter and Nan study the more an individual participated in an exercise regimen the higher the individuals’ self-esteem, leading the individual feeling more satisfied with their bodies and their current personal situations. These results as well as the results from the McAuley, Mihalko, and Bane research on the advantages of exercise and self worth indicate that there is a relationship between exercise frequency and a positive self-image. The current study indicates that the more an individual participates in an exercise regimen the more the individual feel positive about their bodies increasing their self- esteem. The results of this study may have been limited due to the possibilities that the participants may have been experiencing sleepiness during the pre-test due to the particular hour of the morning observed. The participants may have felt better about their bodies if they were more awake and alert at the time of the testing. Participants may have been experiencing an emotional time period that lifted by the end of the two-week observing session therefore allowing them to feel better about themselves by the post-test. If this particular study was to be duplicated it may prove helpful to observe the participants for a longer period of time. For example, observe individuals for two weeks following the post-test survey to see if there fitness routine has stayed consistent or fell below normal, allowing to see if only the presence of an observer had an effect on exercise frequency and self esteem. These results, I believe can be generalized to other situations because it is an indicator that exercise not only proves to be helpful for the longevity of life but also the mental aspects of everyday life. An individuals’ self-esteem can hinder an individual as well as open various opportunities, such as in the work life, as well as the personal life. If an individual feels confident about themselves it shows through their actions and in the way in which they carry themselves. A person who exercises is more likely to feel better about their bodies leading to an overall confident attitude.

ReferencesHayes, S. D., Crocker, P. R. E., & Kowalski, K. C. (1999). Gender differences in physical self- perceptions, global self- esteem and physical activity: Evaluation of the physical self- perception profile model. Journal of Sport Behavior, 22, 1-14.McAuley, E., Milhalko, S. L., & Bane, S. M. (1996). Exercise and self- esteem in middle- aged adults: Multidimensional relationships and physical fitness and self- efficacy influences. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 20, 67-83.Walter, M. E., & Nan, L. (2004). Physical fitness and the stress process. Journal of Community Psychology, 32, 81-101.

Submitted 12/5/2005 11:37:39 AM
Last Edited 12/5/2005 11:45:39 AM
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