Prior research has established significant associations between regular physical activity and enhancements in well-being, quality of life, and self-regulation. Given that these benefits may extend to influence the quality of romantic relationships, the present study was the first to evaluate the relationship between exercise and romantic relationship satisfaction through the role of body image, drawing upon the Self-Determination Theory as the theoretical framework. Specifically, the current study aimed to achieve three objectives: (a) to investigate the impact of exercise on romantic relationship satisfaction, (b) to examine the effects of body image as a mediator in the exercise-relationship connection, and (c) to determine whether exercise motives moderate the mediating effect of body image. Data were gathered from an online survey completed by 392 cisgender women in heterosexual relationships and analyzed using PROCESS Macro for SPSS Model 4 and Model 7, respectively. The results showed that exercise frequency was not directly related to romantic relationship satisfaction. However, body image fully mediated this association, indicating that increased exercise predicted body satisfaction and subsequently contributed to individuals' perceived relationship quality. While exercise motivation did not emerge as a moderator of the mediation of body image, health/fitness and enjoyment/mood motives significantly predicted positive body evaluation and relationship quality. In contrast, concerns related to appearance were linked to higher levels of social comparison and negative affect. Therefore, these findings highlight the value of fostering a positive body image and reducing body-focused motivation, as well as prioritizing autonomous exercise for the quality of romantic relationships and overall well-being.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

White, Grace


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program




Access Status

Campus Access

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Release Date