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Improves Body Image with Exercising

fitnessExercising improves body image, even if it hasn’t shifted the pounds

The simple act of doing some exercise convinces people they look better – even if it has actually made no difference. Researchers discovered we believe we look healthier after working out despite the fact it may not have been enough to make us any fitter. And we don’t necessarily feel any better about ourselves when we do more exercise and do look fitter, say psychologists. Even doing a small amount of exercise has psychological benefits according to new research

Professor Heather Hausenblas, who carried out the research, reveals that ‘the simple act of exercise and not fitness itself can convince you that you look better’. She said: ‘You would think that if you become more fit you would experience greater improvements in terms of body image, but that’s not what we found. ‘It may be that the requirements to receive the psychological benefits of exercise, including those relating to body image, differ substantially from the physical benefits.’

Although the physical benefits of exercise are well understood, Prof Hausenblas said it was important to understand the psychological advantages of exercise.

Prof Hausenblas, of the University of Florida, said dissatisfaction with the way we look is a major problem and leads to eating disorders, depression, smoking, taking steroids and cosmetic surgery. She added: ‘It affects men and women of all ages, starting with children who are as young as five years old saying they don’t like how their bodies look.’

The study found no difference in body image improvement between people who exercised at least 30 minutes a day five days a week and those who did much less. ‘We would have thought that people exercising this amount would have felt better about their bodies than those who did not work out as much,’ she said.

The study showed slightly larger benefits from exercise in terms of improving body image for women than men.

Professor Kathleen Martin Ginis, of McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, said: ‘This is an important study because it shows that doing virtually any type of exercise, on a regular basis, can help people feel better about their bodies.

‘With such a large segment of the population dissatisfied with their physiques, it’s encouraging to know that even short, frequent bouts of lower intensity exercise can improve body image.’

The findings are detailed in the September issue of the Journal of Health Psychology. via

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