This study examined the potential mediating roles of mindfulness and body awareness in the relationship between exercise and eating behavior. Female exercisers (N = 159) recruited from fitness centers, yoga centers, and the community completed a questionnaire incorporating measures of exercise behavior, body awareness, trait mindfulness, mindful eating, dietary intake, and disordered eating symptoms. Participation in yoga was associated with significantly lower disordered eating (mediated by body awareness), whereas the amount of time spent participating in cardio-based exercise was associated with greater eating disturbance. The relationships between amount of exercise and actual food intake were not mediated by trait mindfulness or body awareness. The differential findings for dietary intake and disordered eating indicate that the body awareness cultivated in different forms of exercise may be more beneficial for clinical populations or those at risk for eating disorders than for modifying actual dietary intake in the general population.
Rachel Martin is with the School of Psychology, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia. Ivanka Prichard, Amanda D. Hutchinson, and Carlene Wilson are each with the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia, and with Cancer Council South Australia, Eastwood, SA, Australia.