Does Physical Activity Have an Impact on Self-Esteem?

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Does physical activity have an impact on self-esteem?

This experiment is being conducted to test the correlation between physical activity and self esteem. Two simple questionnaires are going to be used and the participants will all be students at the University of Gloucestershire. A. Raustrop, E. Mattsson, k. Svensson& A. Stahle’s work on physical activity and self esteem has encouraged and helped this experiment.


Self-esteem has been linked to physical activity in a few recent researches’ but only in near on sub content way and not as directly as this experiment aims to investigate their relationship and hopefully correlation. Self-esteem is a lay term that is frequently used in everyday life, (Rosenberg 1979, cited in Maltby, Day and Macaskill, 2007) defines self-esteem as an indication of the degree to which you experience yourself as worthy and capable, Colman (2006) also agrees, defining self-esteem as one’s attitude towards oneself or one’s opinion or evalution of oneself, which may be positive, neutral or low. Self esteem may also be know as self evaluation. Therefore the concept of self esteem can be described as the emotional relationship one has with themselves (Maltby et al, 2007). Many factors are important for the individual level of daily physical activity for a healthy lifestyle such as cultural, social and personal factors and an important personal factor is self esteem (in daily life) (Whitehead, 1995). Levels of self esteem have been identified as an important factor in predicting reactions to feedback, motivation and behavious ((Kernis et al. 1993, Cited in Maltby et al. 2007) and motivation is fundamental in learning situations (Deci & Ryan 1985). Everyone has heard of people ‘comfort eating’, a system of self soothing which has been linked back to mothers soothing their babies with milk when the baby cries, the main principle of comfort eating is that some form of sadness, from loneliness to bored, causes an individual to eat. If this sadness is due to low self esteem caused by obesity or just being a little over weight then other than sensible dieting an increase in physical activity can cut out both the weight problem and the problem of comfort eating, saving money and, if the participant is mortally obese, even lives. It is factors like this that make me question the effect physically activity has on an individual’s self esteem. I predict to will see a positive and reasonable correlation between self esteem and physical activity, ergo, if a participants response is high for the amount of physical activity they participant in, their self esteem should also be high and the same in a reverse way, the lower the amount of physical activity a participant says they take part in, the lower self esteem score I expect to see.


All Participants were undergraduate students from the University of Gloucestershire. They were selected using an opportunity sample from around the campus, halls, second year lectures in psychology and creative writing, this is to ensure a variance in results and to prevent collecting data from a group.

For this correlational study the research was conducted as a within subject design, both questionnaires were completed by the same participant in one sitting as the questionnaires were fused together so the participant did not have their opinions swayed if they began to work out what the experiment was trying to research. To counterbalance any order effects the questionnaires were randomly presented to participants. This counterbalanced any fatigue or other order effects that participants of the within subject design may have been experiencing. Questionnaires were also stapled together with one half of all questionnaires having questions on physical activity first and self esteem second and the other half in the reverse order, this was to attempt to counter balance any bias that may...
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