Just a small amount of exercise can improve body image for women

Working out may be the last thing on your mind when you're feeling a bit down on yourself, but research has suggested that even a small about of exercise can have a hugely positive effect on a woman's body image.

A study published this month in the journal, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, found that just 30 minutes of exercise left women feeling slimmer and stronger afterwards.

Researchers gathered 75 college-aged women who said they were unhappy with their appearance in order to test exercise's effect on body positivity.

Participants were given a questionnaire that asked about their exercise habits, energy and stress levels, as well as how they felt about their appearance and how much they enjoyed working out.

The group were then divided in two, with one half instructed to exercise on a stationary bike for 30 minutes, while the other half sat in a room reading a National Geographic magazine.

When the 30 minutes were up, the participants repeated the questionnaire directly after the workout, and then again 20 minutes later.

Interestingly, the women who worked out showed signs of improved body image in both questionnaires when compared to those who didn't.

The authors of the study reckon that the positive effect could last beyond the 20 minutes mark – although they did not test for that.

What's more, the results could suggest that physically active people have better self image, regardless if there's a change in their appearance.

The study adds to the growing body of research that indicates exercise can have a positive influence on a person's mental health and body acceptance.

So, the next time you find yourself in need of a little confidence boost, why not get that heart rate going?

You'll feel better in more ways than one.

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