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Can 30 Minutes Of Exercise Improve Your Body Image?

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Can 30 Minutes Of Exercise Improve Your Body Image?

In North America alone, nearly 50% of women have experienced some form of body image dissatisfaction. This has increased in the past three decades as standards and expectations of women’s bodies have changed and the pressure to achieve a ‘beach body’ is at an all-time high.

The promise of a better body is enough to make many of us women get off the sofa and into the gym, but could our workouts be improving more than just our bodies?

A study from the University of British Columbia has found that just one 30-minute bout of exercise can make women feel “stronger and thinner”. Kathleen Martin Ginis, the study’s senior author, compared the body image and physical perception of two groups of women. The first completed 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, the second sat and read. Unsurprisingly, the women who exercised had significant improvements in their body image over those who didn’t.

“Women, in general, have a tendency to feel negatively about their bodies,” says Martin Ginis, professor in UBC Okanagan’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences.

“This is a concern because poor body image can have harmful implications for a woman’s psychological and physical health including increased risk for low self-esteem, depression and for eating disorders. This study indicates exercise can have an immediate positive effect.”


– RELATED: Why Dancing And Fitness Will Lead To A Better Mind And Better Body


Interestingly, the women who exercised did not achieve an improved body image because of any chemical mood change, it was linked to how their perceived their body after they worked out. The women viewed themselves and stronger and thinner. This feeling lasted at least 20 minutes post-exercise, meaning our workouts are doing more than just improving our body – they’re improving our mental health.

“We think that the feelings of strength and empowerment women achieve post exercise, stimulate an improved internal dialogue,” says Martin Ginis.

“This in turn should generate positive thoughts and feelings about their bodies which may replace the all too common negative ones.”

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