Women and Running: Changes Beyond the Physical Dimension of Health

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 2 (Convention Center)
Dina M. Hayduk, Kutztown University, Kutztown, PA


Exercise is advocated for women as a direct route to empowerment. A stronger body contributes to a sense of independence, well-being, and self-efficacy both in the exercise world as well as in one's personal world. There is a dearth of concrete examples of what empowerment created as the result of exercising actually means to women and how empowerment translates to the actions of everyday life. This study followed this meaning-making process associated with beginning and adhering to a running program.


This qualitative study utilized narrative inquiry. In depth interviews of 11 adult women who had been running between 1 to 4 years were conducted. The interviews were analyzed individually to see if the subject had a deep paradigm shift in self-perception resulting in empowerment and how that empowerment translated into her everyday life.


Findings indicated all of the subjects did have a change in self-perspective that they contributed to running. Seven of the women articulated a new found confidence in themselves which translated into empowerment in their non-running lives. Examples included confidence to try new non-running activities, new approaches at work, going back to school, or finding their voices.


The women who attributed changes in their non-running lives to the participation in running identified the key ingredient as self-reflection. Running provided time for self-reflection. Implications for physical educators include infusing opportunities for self-reflection with the goal being not only a more physically healthy person but a healthier person in all of the dimensions of health.