Girls on the Run is an after-school program for girls ages 8-13 that is focused on improving physical and mental wellbeing. Previous research has demonstrated some utility in improving mental health, especially as it relates to self-esteem and body image. The current study focused on the longitudinal analysis of girls in this program to determine how long they need to be in this program to gain the most benefits in three key areas of mental wellbeing: body image satisfaction, global self-worth (a facet of self-esteem), and behavioral and emotional functioning. The results indicate that, in this sample from a small Midwestern metropolitan area, girls did not change significantly over time in behavioral and emotional functioning or global self-worth. They displayed healthy levels of functioning throughout the program and there was little room for improvement on these factors. However, changes were found for girls who had participated three or more times when it came to body image with the program actually causing a decrease in body image satisfaction during their second time in the program. Overall, these results differ from other studies that found this program to be beneficial. It appears that, for this particular demographic, Girls on the Run may not have the same utility and may potentially have a negative impact on some girls' body image. Potential reasons for this are discussed. Further research should be done to determine whether girls who are not as stable as this sample might gain more from participating in the program.


Sarah K. Sifers

Committee Member

Kristie L. Campana

Committee Member

David L. Beimers

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)




Social and Behavioral Sciences

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License



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