Accuracy of physical self-description among chronic exercisers and non-exercisers

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Joseph M. Berning
Mark DeBeliso
Trish G. Sevene
Kent J. Adams *
Paul Salmon
Bryant A. Stamford
(*) Corresponding Author:
Kent J. Adams |


This study addressed the role of chronic exercise to enhance physical self-description as measured by self-estimated percent body fat. Accuracy of physical self-description was determined in normal-weight, regularly exercising and non-exercising males with similar body mass index (BMI)’s and females with similar BMI’s (n=42 males and 45 females of which 23 males and 23 females met criteria to be considered chronic exercisers). Statistical analyses were conducted to determine the degree of agreement between self-estimated percent body fat and actual laboratory measurements (hydrostatic weighing). Three statistical techniques were employed: Pearson correlation coefficients, Bland and Altman plots, and regression analysis. Agreement between measured and self-estimated percent body fat was superior for males and females who exercised chronically, compared to non-exercisers. The clinical implications are as follows. Satisfaction with one’s body can be influenced by several factors, including self-perceived body composition. Dissatisfaction can contribute to maladaptive and destructive weight management behaviors. The present study suggests that regular exercise provides a basis for more positive weight management behaviors by enhancing the accuracy of self-assessed body composition.

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