Male vs Female: Relationship Between Exercise Type and Body Image

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Males verses Females:
The Relationship between Exercise Type and Body Image
Demi Donegan
La Trobe University, Bundoora

Abstract
Body image is an issue that is prominent in our society. This can be directly linked to the way an individual see themselves as a person and has the ability to control their actions. This could be due to the stereotypes placed upon us from society and the media. In order to respond to these stereotypes and as a way to combat body image issues, people can turn to exercise. An observational study was carried out to create a comparison between males and females and the types of exercise completed in order to work towards the individual’s desired body image. The study found females were more inclined to partake in cardio workouts, possibly in an attempt to reduce bodily fat, whereas makes were more prevalent in the weight training room, possibly to gain muscle mass and definition. Further research should be undertaken to gain a greater understanding to the reasoning behind each individuals exercise choices.

Body image is the way in which an individual sees himself or herself. This represents one’s actual body in the world as well as the aesthetic component in terms of how beautiful or desirable one’s body is (Olbrisch, 2008). Currently there have been many concerns as to whether women, especially the younger generation, have become more body conscious than in previous years (Horace, 2011). Some of the issues women face have been highlighted through various studies, which the ideals of being ‘perfect’ included; being a specific weight, height and size along with eating healthy and keeping fit. It has been thought that over time women have developed a higher standard of body image than men (Hyde & Durik, 2011), in that they are less appreciative of themselves and their appearance. The issue of body image and perception of one’s self is not strictly limited to females. Research has shown that males also battle bodily image issues. In contrast to the desire to be thin and lean in females, being muscular is perceived to convey masculinity within a man. A study was undertaken by Edwards and Launder (1999) to investigate the muscularity structure concerns within males. This study demonstrated that males desired to achieve a muscular, defined body shape and by doing so, enhanced feelings of masculinity, enhanced their confidence and felt a greater attractiveness overall bout themselves. Body image is also an issue that is highly emphasised through the media and society. It is through this that links to stereotypes are made. Research completed by Botta (2006) found a link between the people seen in the media and the way in which adolescent girls in particular defined how their bodies should look. Similar findings by Agliata and Tantleff-Dunn suggest that it is exposure to the media and media images of the ‘ideal’ male body, defined as lean and muscular, has detrimental effects to a male’s self-esteem. Societal bodily ideals are more often than not conveyed through stereotypes. As a person’s physical appearance can often be the only information we have about them, we quickly learn that social opportunities may be affected by our physical beauty. The present study aimed to investigate the difference in training or exercise methods between males and females at the gym. From research, it was anticipated that females would be more inclined to opt for a higher intensity cardio workout than males, who would be more likely to undertake weight training in seeking muscular definition. It was hypothesized that a greater number of females would be observed participating in cardiovascular exercise as opposed to males, who would be in higher numbers in the weights room as females wish to reduce body fat and males seek to increase muscle mass. Method

Participants
Participants of the study were members or users of a local Melbourne gym. 22 males and 30 females were observed. Participants were of all...
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