Exercise and body image

By • Published: January 5th, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Don’t be down in the mouth because of all that eating you did over the holidays.

Researchers say that it won’t take much exercise to feel better about your expanded waistline.

In a study that focused on the psychological effects of exercise, researchers at the University of Florida found that just the act of physical exercise can improve your body image.

Their findings, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, are a result of a review of fifty-seven intervention studies on exercise.

The study found that people who don’t reach workout goals such as fat loss, strength gain or boosting cardiovascular fitness feel just as good about their bodies as their well-chiseled counterparts.

Researchers also found that benefits of exercise in terms of body image varied among genders and age groups.

Exercise benefited women slightly more than men in terms of body image. Researchers thought the gap would be larger, which suggests issues of body image are rising among men who, like women, are continually subjected to media portrayals of the ideal physique.

Older people were the most likely to report enhanced body images from exercise.

An interesting aspect of the study showed that the frequency, or how often someone exercised, was significant in boosting body perceptions.

But the duration, intensity, length or type of exercise made no real difference on how people perceived their bodies.

With body dissatisfaction growing in the United States, contributing to poor behaviors such as fad dieting, smoking, steroid use and cosmetic surgery, researchers say the simple act of exercise and not fitness itself can convince you that you look better.

And that should make you feel better.