Dissatisfaction with the way we look is pretty common, especially in today’s world of airbrushing and botox. But just one session in the gym can leave you feeling happier with your body image, new research has found.
While this sense of negative self-image also affects men, it appears to be more prevalent in women.
In fact, in the US only 11% of adult women over the age of 45 are satisfied with the way their body looks.
Cause for concern
Women’s negative feelings about their bodies have been highlighted as a concern by Kathleen Martin Ginis of University of British Columbia.
“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,” she said.
Martin Ginis recently worked on a study with along with Lauren Salci into the impact of a single 30-minute bout of exercise on women’s bodily self-perception.
Young women, who already had body image concerns and who regularly engaged in physical activity, took part.
They were randomly assigned to do either 30 minutes of “moderate-to-vigorous” exercise, or engage in quiet reading while sitting.
The women who worked out improved their body image significantly, compared with those who did not exercise.
The effect was almost immediate and lasted for at least 20 minutes after exercise.
Rather than a change in mood, the boost was due to the women seeing themselves as “stronger and thinner.”
“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.”
And that’s not all…
Add to that the body’s release of endorphins during exercise – chemicals which reduce our perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling within the body – and it’s a strong proposition.
Rather than hiding away on those sluggish, bloated days – get down to the gym.
Do you find the gym gives you that confidence boost?