When it comes to satisfaction with body function and body appearance, older men and women have different opinions, although physical activity does improve satisfaction in both sexes, according to new study by a Baylor University researcher.
Researchers found that as men and women age, there is a shift in body satisfaction away from appearance and towards body functionality, a finding that was documented more consistently in women. Additionally, when comparing concerns across genders, satisfaction with body functionality was more important for men than women. Another finding showed by increasing body satisfaction in both appearance and function, depressive symptoms of older adults were reduced.
The research found programs that are successful at increasing participation in physical activity among older adults not only decrease the risk of a multitude of chronic diseases, but also increase one's satisfaction with their body function and their satisfaction with body appearance. When researchers studied the men and women as a combined group, greater improvements in satisfaction with body function were associated with being younger, better baseline health ratings, greater reductions in body mass index (BMI) and more physical activity. Greater improvements in satisfaction with body appearance were associated with obtaining a college degree, more reductions in BMI and depressive symptoms, and increases in physical activity.
The study also showed that white older adults have lower overall body satisfaction and place a stronger relationship between physical activity and body satisfaction than African-American older adults. However, researchers found that improvements with satisfaction with body function and body appearance were more likely among white participants.