Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) may be associated with worse physical and mental health in adulthood, and low physical activity engagement, but the relationships are not fully understood. Objectives: To establish the scope of the literature exploring associations between ACEs, physical activity, and physical and mental health. Methods: We conducted this scoping review according to PRISMA-ScR guidelines. We searched MEDLINE, Scopus, SPORTDiscus, and PsycInfo for relevant articles. Results: Eighteen studies were included, 17 observational and 1 randomized controlled trial. The majority of studies were cross-sectional and employed self-reported physical activity and ACE measures. Six studies explored physical health, 9 explored mental health, and 3 explored both. Associations between ACEs and poor physical health outcomes (poor self-reported physical health, inflammation, high resting heart rate, and obesity) were consistently weaker or attenuated among those who were physically active. Physical activity may also moderate the associations between ACEs and depressive symptoms, psychological functioning, and health-related quality of life. Conclusion: Associations between ACEs and poor physical and mental health were observed in those with less frequent physical activity engagement, though the majority of evidence relies on cross-sectional observational designs with self-report instruments. Further research is required to determine whether physical activity can prevent or treat poor physical and mental health in the presence of ACEs.
Brook Hadwen, Eva Pila, and Jane Thornton
Garcia Ashdown-Franks, Angela Meadows, and Eva Pila
Scholars have proposed that cumulative experiences of anti-fat bias and stigma contribute to detrimental physical activity experiences, as well as social and health inequities. The objective of this research was to explore how enacted weight stigma experiences are constructed and impact women’s physical activity experiences long term. Eighteen women who identified as having had negative experiences related to their body weight, shape, or size in physical activity contexts participated in semistructured interviews. Using reflexive thematic analysis, four themes were identified: (a) norms of body belonging, (b) distancing from an active identity, (c) at war with the body, and (d) acts of resistance. These findings deepen understandings of how historical experiences of weight stigma can have longstanding consequences on physical activity cognitions, emotions, and behaviors. To equitably promote physical activity, it is imperative that movement spaces (e.g., fitness centers, sport organizations) both target anti-fat stigma and adopt weight-inclusive principles.
Eva Pila, Angela Stamiris, Andree Castonguay, and Catherine M. Sabiston
These three studies sought to better understand experiences of body-related envy and to examine the association with motivation and exercise behavior in young adult males and females. In an interview study, participants (N = 11) discussed body-related envy within a framework of social comparison. In Study 2, a thematic content analysis was conducted on self-reported narratives of body-related envy experiences reported by 288 participants. Themes of body-related envy triggers, cognitions, and cognitive and behavioral outcomes were identified. Findings from Studies 1 and 2 highlighted the possible link between body-related envy and exercise motivation and behavior. Study 3 tested these associations with males and females (N = 595) who completed a self-report questionnaire. In the structural equation model, body-related envy was positively associated with external, introjected, and identified regulations, and identified regulation was positively associated with exercise behavior. Taken together, the importance of body-related envy in the experience of cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes related to sport and exercise contexts is highlighted.