Examining physical perceptions of the body and physical characteristics as predictors of physical activity during adolescence

Research shows that a growing number of Canadian adolescents are becoming less active, threatening their physical and mental health by increasing their risk of being overweight. While there has been substantial research on physical activity, the primary factors that influence levels of activity have not been identified. Catherine Sabiston’s past research has focused on ways adolescents and young adults deal with feelings and emotions related to their body. In this research, she has found initial links between body image and physical activity. She is now looking at whether body image (perceptions and attitudes about one’s body and physical appearance) and actual body characteristics related to shape and weight contribute to decreasing physical activity levels among adolescents. Catherine is also interested in how these factors affect boys and girls differently. Her goal is to come up with realistic recommendations that will lead Canadian adolescents toward increased activity levels and eventually healthier lifestyles.