Social physique anxiety and physical activity in early adolescent girls: the influence of maturation and physical activity motives

Ailsa Niven, Samantha Fawkner, Ann-Marie Knowles, Joan Henretty, Claire Stephenson

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This study considered the influence of maturation on social physique anxiety (SPA), the relationship between SPA and current and future physical activity (PA) levels and the influence of motives for physical activity on this relationship in early adolescent girls (n=162; mean age=11.80±0.33 years). Participants completed the Pubertal Development Scale, the modified Social Physique Anxiety Scale and the Motives for Physical Activity Scale at baseline and the Physical Activity Questionnaire for Older Children at baseline and 6 months later. The girls became less active across the 6 months and girls in the early stages of maturation had significantly lower SPA than the girls in the middle and late stages of maturation. SPA was not related to current or future physical activity in the sample as a whole. Cluster analysis identified four groups with different motive profiles and the High Appearance and Fitness group demonstrated a moderate negative relationship between SPA and PA at phase 1, whereas the other groups did not. These findings indicate that SPA may increase with maturation and the relationship between SPA and PA is dependent on reasons for being active. For girls who are motivated to be active primarily by body-related reasons SPA is likely to lead to lower levels of PA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-305
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number3
Early online date4 Feb 2009
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • physical activity
  • adolescence
  • social physique anxiety
  • motives

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