This study employed the method of qualitative exploration to examine the relationships between body image, exercise and eating behaviors. It also addressed a controversial question in the literature: Do weight and appearance concerns motivate physical activity participation or does participation in physical activity exacerbate weight and appearance concerns? Seven female recreational exercisers (ages 23 to 35) were interviewed about weight and appearance concerns, eating and exercise behaviors. All but one reported past or present disordered eating behaviors. While all of the women cited numerous physical and psychological benefits from physical activity, weight and appearance concerns were important motivators to exercise. For all participants, weight and appearance concerns as well as disordered eating problems led to the adoption of recreational fitness activities and not the reverse.
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