The Effect of a College Exercise Class on the Self-esteem of Female College Students
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
LIU, J. H. (2006). The Effect of a College Exercise Class on the Self-esteem of Female College Students. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 9. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved August 24, 2017 .

The Effect of a College Exercise Class on the Self-esteem of Female College Students
JILLIAN H. LIU
MISSOURI WESTERN STATE UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (cronk@missouriwestern.edu)
ABSTRACT
In recent years, the importance of a high self-esteem has been greatly emphasized. As a result of this, parents and educators have become more concerned with how to raise a child’s self-esteem. Self-esteem can be defined as “the degree to which individuals feel positive about themselves” (Sonstroem, 1989). It has even been shown that some psychiatric disorders are distinguished by a low self esteem, for example clinical depression, anxiety, and personality disorders (Beck et al, 2001, as cited in Knapen and Van, 2003). Findings like these create an urgency to discover what can be done to create a higher self-esteem in individuals. The purpose of this current study is to investigate the effects of a one hour exercise class on self-esteem. Data was collected from a total of 30 female undergraduate students. The students were either enrolled in a pilates, step aerobic or dance aerobic class. The Rosenberg (1965) Self-Esteem Scale was used to measure the self-esteem of each participant. This scale measures the self acceptance aspect of self-esteem. The participants filled out the Rosenberg scale the first day of the week that their respective class took place. In order to control for any practice effect, participants filled out the scale again two days later after the completion of their respective 40 minute class. The results of this study do not fully support the hypothesis that the exercise classes would raise the self-esteem scores. There was a non-significant trend found between the before class self-esteem score, and the after-class score. The current study measured self-esteem only after a one hour exercise class. Further research is needed to investigate the link between exercise and self-esteem.

INTRODUCTION
In recent years, the importance of a high self-esteem has been greatly emphasized. As a result of this, parents and educators have become more and more concerned with how to raise a child’s self-esteem. Self-esteem is the evaluative element of self concept. Self-esteem can be defined as “the degree to which individuals feel positive about themselves” (Sonstroem, 1989). A high self-esteem is very important. It has even been shown that some psychiatric disorders are distinguished by a low self esteem, for example clinical depression, anxiety, and personality disorders (Beck et al, 2001, as cited in Knapen and Van, 2003). Findings like these create an urgency to discover what can be done to create a higher self-esteem in individuals.It has long been known that exercise has many health benefits. According to The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (2006), the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers can be greatly lowered by engaging in moderate daily activity. Daily physical activity will also help reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and obesity. Seeing only these few of the many benefits, one can easily see the importance of being physically active. Recently, it has been thought that participating in exercise may also help to raise one’s self-esteem. One study suggested that a running program produced an improvement in the self-esteem of elementary-aged children (Percy, Dziuban, and Martin, 1981). In this study the effects of a seven-week running program was measured using 15 fifth and sixth grade students. The Coopersmith Self-Esteem Inventory (1967) was used in this study. It was found that the average post-intervention effect size was 1.41 as compared to a matched control group. Their results indicate that the running program did increase the self-esteem of the students in this case.There has been some research performed on the effect of exercise on self-esteem. One study performed by Ágnes Tihanyi Hõs (2005) investigated the effects of a one year long dance aerobic program on the self-esteem of middle aged women. Hõs found that the year long aerobic dance program had a positive effect on the total self-image on the middle-aged participants. There was no significant change in the body image of the control group. In contrast Walters and Martin (2000) found that aerobic exercise did not improve self-esteem in children that scored highly in self-esteem to begin with. This study examined the effects of exercise on self-esteem and behavioral problems in 67 children grades three through five. This was a 13-week intervention. The experimental group received a 30-40 minute aerobic routine five times a week. The comparison group also received a 20-30 minute routine five times a week. However, the control group’s routine consisted of an assortment of strength building and motor skills activities with some intermittent aerobic activity. At the end of the 13-weeks there was no significant difference between the self-concept or behavioral problems in the experimental group as apposed to the comparison group. Walters and Martin felt that this may have been due to a ceiling effect. The participants’ self-esteem scores were above the norm on the pre-test, which may have left room for little improvement. The purpose of this current study is to investigate the effects of a one hour exercise class on self-esteem.


METHOD

PARTICIPANTS
Data was collected from a total of 30 female undergraduate students. The students were either enrolled in a pilates, step aerobic or dance aerobic class at Missouri Western State University. There were 16 female participants from the dance aerobic class ranging in age from 18 to 36. The dance aerobic class met on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:00 am to 10:45 am. There were 12 female participants from the pilates class ranging in age from 19 to 33. The pilates class met Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 am to 9:45 am. There were two participants from the step aerobics class ages 20 and 23. The step aerobics class met Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 pm to 1:15 pm.

MATERIALS
The Rosenberg (1965) Self-Esteem Scale was used to measure the self-esteem of each participant. This scale is well known for its reliability and validity, and is frequently used to measure self-esteem. The Rosenberg scale measures the self acceptance aspect of self-esteem. This scale was created originally for high school students. The scale consists of ten items answered on a four point scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.” See the Appendix for the Rosenberg scale. Participants in the pilates class also brought their own pilates mats. Aerobic steps with risers and mats were provided by Missouri Western State University for the participants in the step aerobics class.

PROCEDURE
The participants in the pilates and dance aerobic classes filled out the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale before the class began on Monday. In order to control for any practice effect, participants filled out the Rosenburg Self-Esteem scale on Wednesday after completion of their 40 minute pilates class. The participant in the step aerobic class filled out the Rosenburg Self-Esteem scale on Tuesday before the class began, and again on Thursday after their class was complete. All classes were taught by their regular instructor.


RESULTS
A paired-samples t test was calculated to compare the mean before class self-esteem score to the mean after class self-esteem score. The mean on the before class was 15.83 (sd = 4.54), and the mean on the after class was 15.23 (sd = 4.61). A non-significant trend from before class self-esteem scores to after class self-esteem was found (t (29) = 1.874, p = .07).


DISCUSSION
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a one hour exercise class on self-esteem. The results of this study do not fully support the hypothesis that the exercise classes would raise the self-esteem scores. There was a non-significant trend found between the before class self-esteem score, and the after-class score. These findings are similar to the finds of Walters and Martin (2000). They found that aerobic exercise did not improve self-esteem in children that scored highly in self-esteem to begin with. Their study included a 13-week intervention. At the end of the 13-weeks there was no significant difference between the self-concept or behavioral problems in the experimental group as apposed to the comparison group. Walters and Martin felt that this may have been due to a ceiling effect. The participants’ self-esteem scores were above the norm on the pre-test, which may have left room for little improvement. The current study is in contrast to many studies that did find a significant difference in self-esteem scores after exercise. Both Percy, Dziuban, and Martin, (1981), and Ágnes Tihanyi Hõs (2005) found a significant difference in self-esteem scores as a result of an exercise program. However, both of these studies looked at the effect of a long-term exercise program. The current study measured self-esteem only after a one hour exercise class. Further research is needed to investigate the link between exercise and self-esteem. A future study should possibly measure self-esteem at the beginning of the semester for these exercise classes, and again at the end of the semester to further investigate the difference of self-esteem scores. The effects of exercise on self-esteem may only be evident after a longer-term exercise program.


REFERENCES
Hõs, A. (2005). The effects of guided systematic aerobic dance programme on the self-esteem of adults. Kinesiology, 37, 141-150.Knapen, J., Van de Vliet, P. (2003). The effectiveness of two psychomotor therapy programmes on physical fitness and physical self-concept in nonpsychotic psychiatric patients: A randomized controlled trial. Clinical Rehabilitation, 17, 637-647. Percy, L. E., Dziuban, C. D., Martin, J. B. (1981). Analysis of effects of distance running on self-concepts of elementary students. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 52, 42-52The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. (2006, March 30). Retrieved October 17, 2006, from http://www.fitness.gov//resources_factsheet.htm.Sonstroem, R. J. (1989). Exercise and self-esteem: Rationale and model. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 21, 329-337Walters, S. T., & Martin, J. E. (2000). Does aerobic exercise really enhance self-esteem in children?. Journal of Sport and Behavior, 23, 51-60.Wentura, D., & Werner, G. (2005). Assessing the structure of self-concept: Evidence for self-defensive processes by using a sentence priming task. Self & Identity, 4, 193-211.


APPENDIX
Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale1. Strongly agree 2. Agree 3. Disagree 4. Strongly disagree1. I feel that I’m a person of worth, at least on an equal basis with others.2. I feel that I have a number of good qualities.3. All in all, I am inclined to feel that I am a failure.I am able to do things as well as most other people. 5. I feel I do not have much to be proud of.6. I take a positive attitude toward myself.7. On the whole, I am satisfied with myself.8. I wish I could have more respect for myself.9. I certainly feel useless at times.10. At times I think I am no good at all.

Submitted 12/7/2006 12:40:26 PM
Last Edited 12/7/2006 12:47:06 PM
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