Workout Frequency Improves Body ImagePosted on Oct 20th 2009 3:00PM by Ashley Neglia
Filed Under: Fitness
We all want to look and feel better about ourselves, but sometimes getting off the couch and on the treadmill can seem too daunting at the beginning (or even end) of a work day. But as the leaves start to change many of us fight to stay active, especially in the face of dropping temperatures. Keep in mind, however, that even a little bit of exercise can do wonders for body image.
Results from 57 separate exercise and body image studies were combined and analyzed by researchers from the University of Florida. The final study, published in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of Health Psychology, found that the simple act of exercise alone -- not necessarily working out to get in shape -- can help boost body image.
One of the most surprising findings was that frequency of exercise had more of an impact on body image than workout duration or intensity. The more people exercised per week regardless of how hard or how long they worked out, the more their body image improved.
"It's the power of the mind. People's perceptions are stronger than what's going on physically," says Heather A. Hausenblas, co-author of the study and professor at University of Florida's College of Health and Human Performance. "Even just a little bit [of exercise] is going to have some positive health benefit." In addition, improvements in strength, cardiovascular fitness and even weight loss did not affect body image perception.
Study results found that women experienced a greater increase in body image compared to men because "women tend to report to be more body dissatisfied," says Hausenblas. Additionally, a larger improvement in body image was reported from adults over 60 years old. "People's physical activity levels decrease as we get older. For a group that is much less active than their younger counterparts, there's more room for improvement."
Several additional studies have noted that strength training may yield more positive effects on body image compared to aerobic training. A 1994 study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that middle-aged women who engaged in a home strength training program three times per week for 12 weeks markedly improved body image more than women participating in a walking program of the same frequency and duration. Researchers believe that this greater effect may be attributed to strength training's ability to make exercisers feel stronger, thinner and more toned.
The bottom line is that if you want to improve your own body image, any kind of exercise will help as long as you make it a habit.
For more reasons why you should get into a workout routine, check out what mild exercise can do for your heart as you age.