Amanda Dufner

Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Kinesiology & Public Health Education

First Advisor

James Whitehead


College students exercise for a variety of reasons, but specific differences in their motivations and perceptions have not been extensively studied. PURPOSE: The main purpose was to see if students whose primary reason for exercise is to lose fat (FATCON), gain muscle mass (MUSC), or maintain health (HLTH) had differences in their exercise motivations, social physique anxiety, and body image self-perceptions.

A secondary purpose was to explore if the participants’ supplement use reflected their exercise priorities.

METHODS: Data were collected at a university Wellness Center, or from exercise classes. Participants (N = 216) completed a packet of four questionnaires: Multidimensional Body Self Relations Questionnaire (MBSRQ), Social Physique Anxiety Scale (SPAS), The Behavioral Regulation of Exercise Questionnaire (BREQ-3), and an ad hoc Dietary Supplement Questionnaire (DSQ).

RESULTS: MANOVA revealed a significant difference between groups (F (14, 350) = 4.89, p < .001). Post hoc tests showed significant differences between groups on six out of seven dependent variable scales. Specifically, MUSC was significantly higher in autonomous motivation than FATCON and HLTH (p < .001), but FATCON scores on SPAS, appearance evaluation, body areas satisfaction, overweight preoccupation, and self-weight classification were all less positive than the scores of MUSC and HLTH (p < .001 to p < .005). Supplement use was low in HLTH (11%), FATCON (15%), but higher in MUSC (49%). In addition, some of the supplements listed by MUSC were of questionable efficacy and safety.

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of these college student exercisers were autonomously motivated, but those who exercised primarily for fat control had more negative body-related perceptions than those who exercised primarily for health, or for muscle gain reasons. Additionally, the data on supplement use indicates a need for consumer education, especially for those who report they are exercising primarily to gain muscle.