Does Yoga Help College-Aged Women with Body-Image Dissatisfaction Feel Better About Their Bodies?


A majority of U.S. college-aged women experience body-image dissatisfaction, which puts them at heightened risk for the development of an eating disorder. However, evidence-based psychological interventions for body-image dissatisfaction in this population are not broadly available due to the limited number of trained counselors. We evaluated the efficacy of yoga as a novel treatment for body-image dissatisfaction in otherwise healthy U.S. college-aged women. Female participants between the ages of 18–30 were randomly assigned to twice weekly yoga classes for 12 weeks or to a wait-listed control condition. Compared to participants in the control condition, participants in the yoga condition reported significantly greater improvements in appearance evaluation and satisfaction with specific body areas at post-test. Participants in the yoga condition also reported larger reductions in the amount of time and energy spent preoccupied with their appearance. The results of the current study suggest that yoga, which is widely available across the country, could help college-aged women develop healthier relationships with their bodies. Health professionals and college administrators may want to encourage young women with body-image dissatisfaction to practice yoga in order to improve their self-image.

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Correspondence to Aviva H. Ariel-Donges.

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The research was approved by the University of Florida IRB, and all procedures were conducted in accordance with the ethical standards of the IRB and the 1964 Helsinki Declaration.

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Informed consent was obtained from all participants in the study.

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Ariel-Donges, A.H., Gordon, E.L., Bauman, V. et al. Does Yoga Help College-Aged Women with Body-Image Dissatisfaction Feel Better About Their Bodies?. Sex Roles 80, 41–51 (2019).

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  • Body image
  • Yoga
  • College students
  • Human females