Little is known about how women who exercise during pregnancy are perceived. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the positive exercise stereotype (i.e., the general tendency for exercisers to be evaluated more positively than nonexercisers) extends to pregnancy. Adult women (N = 202, mean age = 38.55 years, SD = 13.46) were randomly assigned to read a description of one of the following pregnant female targets: regular exerciser, active living, excessive exerciser, nonexerciser, or control. Participants then rated the target on 12 personality and 8 physical dimensions. MANOVAs revealed a significant main effect for both physical and personality attributes (p < .05). The regular exerciser and active living target received the most positive ratings on both physical and personality dimensions. Whereas the excessive exerciser received high ratings on most physical characteristics, this target was also perceived as meaner and sadder, and having fewer friends than all other targets.
Anca Gaston, Anita Grace Cramp, and Harry Prapavessis are with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada.