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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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Whether or not you think horoscopes are a load of old nonsense or not, there's no denying that at this time of the year we all need an extra push to get back in the swing of things when it comes to exercise.

And if you've spent the last 12 months slogging it out in a Spin class and badly needed to switch up your routine in 2017, why not let the astrologers offer some guidance on this one?!

Every starsign has notable quirks and characteristics, and there's nothing to say that you can't leverage these qualities in order to get the best out of your exercise session, right?!
Fire

Aries

Those whose birthdays fall between March 21 and April 19 are known for their competitive nature, so why not put that to the test in a fitness arena?

Sign up for Spin class where you can note your progress at each session or take up a team sport where you really get to channel your inner competitor.

Leo

As a naturally sociable person, solo work-out sessions just don't do it for you.

Allow your bubbly nature to take centre stage in class sessions like Zumba or Pump!

Sagittarius

A fan of the great outdoors, pursuits which take place outside of a sweaty gym studio were made for you.

Biking, hiking and climbing have you written all over it.

Earth

Taurus

If you were born between April 20 and May 20, chances are you're not overly competitive nor do you find overly intense workout sessions particularly appealing.

Take this into account by participating in Barre or yoga classes where you can get your sweat on without feeing like you're under major pressure.

Virgo

Organised and meticulous, Virgos stay motivated by keeping track of their progress – something which can be done with the help of certain apps.

And with so many exercise apps on the go right now, Virgos do best working independently and monitoring their progress with the help of a little technology.

Capricorn

As an ambitious individual, it's important for Capricorns, like Virgos, to able to monitor and track their progress.

Capricorns often prefer working out alone, and running or jogging is considered one of the most suitable workouts for those whose birthdays fall in December and January.

Air

Gemini

Geminis dislike routine so it's vital you switch up your exercises sessions as often as possible to avoid becoming disinterested.

Alternate cardio sessions with pure weightlifting classes and be adventurous when it comes to the types of classes you take. Bikram yoga? Yes. Zumba? Yes. TRX? Yes, yes, yes.

Libra

Like Leos, Librans are very social creatures and thrive in settings which involve other people.

With this in mind, Librans would be advised to take part in group exercise sessions when working out – whether that's with a buddy or in a formal gym class setting.

Aquarius

Often bored by a conventional approach to certain tasks, Aquarians would benefit from martial arts classes which helps to train body and mind simultaneously.

Disciplined and dependable, Aquarians are the perfect student when it comes to this form of exercise.

 

Water

Cancer

Considered a particularly emotional and sensitive sign, Cancerians benefit from classes which nurture their mind, body and spirit.

Swimming, yoga and Pilates are worth checking out if your birthday falls in May or June.

Scorpio

Known for being fearless and intense, extreme sports often suit Scorpians down to the ground.

Think Bootcamp and Tough Mudder pursuits and you'll be away in a hack!

Pisces

As a water sign it's no surprise that Pisceans often do best in water-based activities.

But as a social soul, swimming lengths alone may not be your thing, so think aqua aerobics for this one.

 

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If you are slaving way in the gym, sacrificed all your tasty treats and still aren’t seeing the results you expect, there is definitely something going on. Ask yourself:

Are you doing the same thing over and over again?

Your body can get used to your workout regime if you are doing the same thing over and over again. Make sure you add various workouts and you will quickly notice a change.

Are you pushing yourself enough?

Make sure you are pushing yourself enough. If you can do ten reps of one workout comfortably, add on another ten. Keep pushing yourself until you think you can’t do it and keep going.  Your brain is probably saying no but your body is saying yes. Know your limits but be aware of how far you can push it.

Is your diet right?

Working out for hours in the gym won’t matter if you don’t have a healthy diet. Make sure you watch your portion sizes and calorie intake. Treat yourself every now and again though.

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Ex Spice Girls singer Mel C, said she has finally overcome her battle with bulimia thanks to the ‘80/20’ diet.

In the past, the 40-year-old suffered from depression and now admits that she ate next to nothing and exercised excessively in the bid to lose weight

Fortunately, the star is no longer afraid of food and has learned to adapt a healthier lifestyle:

“I have my 80/20 rule where through the week I’ll try to be healthy – and then at weekends, I’m a lot more relaxed, especially in front of Scarlet”

We’re not surprised  she brought up her five-year-old girl, because her pregnancy with Scarlet also played a part in her battle with weight loss:

“After having a child, it makes you realise how incredible your body is and it’s made me a lot kinder to myself. Becoming a mum gave me the freedom to finally love myself physically.”

The mother-of-one now cut her workouts from six-per-week to four and seems to be doing well – we’re happy to hear she’s picked herself up!

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