Social Science

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This quasi-experimental study examined whether engaging in physical exercise integrated with a Christian religious focus would result in decreased body shape preoccupation and improved mental and emotional health. Data were collected at the beginning and end of an eight-week period from female and male college students in three conditions: (1) group exercise sessions integrating an explicit religious focus, (2) standard group exercise, and (3) a control condition without activities. The religious exercise group decreased in body shape preoccupation to a greater extent than the control group, but the groups did not differ in other psychological symptoms or affect. This offers an initial indication that integrating a religious focus with exercise may potentially offer a unique method for addressing body shape preoccupation that is not accounted for by improvements in mental health or affect. If confirmed through additional research, infusing a religious focus into exercise regimens might inspire a practical, inexpensive method of targeting body shape dissatisfaction among young adults.

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Mental Health, Religion & Culture